Texas Gov. Perry arrives for booking on two felony charges

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Rick Perry - updated 8/19/2014
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Texas Gov. Perry arrives for booking on two felony charges

Texas Gov. Rick Perry was booked Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014, on two felony counts for allegedly carrying out political threats.

(Image courtesy: Travis County Sheriff's Office)

Texas Governor Rick Perry waits to greet US President Barack Obama in Dallas, Texas, on July 9, 2014 as he arrives for a meeting with local elected officials and faith leaders to discuss the urgent humanitarian situation at the Southwest border. Obama requested $3.7 billion in emergency funding from Congress to help cope with a surge of unaccompanied child immigrants from Central America. AFP PHOTO/Jewel Samad (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - MAY 31: Texas Gov. Rick Perry speaks during the final day of the 2014 Republican Leadership Conference on May 31, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Some of the biggest names in the Republican Party made appearances at the 2014 Republican Leadership Conference, which hosts 1,500 delegates from across the country through May 31. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - MAY 31: Texas Gov. Rick Perry speaks during the final day of the 2014 Republican Leadership Conference on May 31, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Some of the biggest names in the Republican Party made appearances at the 2014 Republican Leadership Conference, which hosts 1,500 delegates from across the country through May 31. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Texas Governor Rick Perry waits to greet US President Barack Obama in Dallas, Texas, on July 9, 2014 as he arrives for a meeting with local elected officials and faith leaders to discuss the urgent humanitarian situation at the Southwest border. Obama requested $3.7 billion in emergency funding from Congress to help cope with a surge of unaccompanied child immigrants from Central America. AFP PHOTO/Jewel Samad (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Texas Gov. Rick Perry arrived at a county courthouse Tuesday for booking on two felony counts of abuse of power for carrying out a threat to veto funding for state public corruption prosecutors.

"I'm going to fight this injustice with every fiber of my being. And we will prevail," Perry said before walking into the Travis County Courthouse in Austin, where a grand jury indicted him last week.

The Republican has dismissed the case as a political ploy, and he has laughed off concerns that it could be potentially unflattering as he strongly considers a second presidential run in 2016. Many top national conservatives have lined up to support him, including some potential future White House rivals.

The longest-serving governor in Texas history was indicted for coercion and official oppression for publicly promising to veto $7.5 million for the state public integrity unit, which investigates wrongdoing by elected officials and is run by the Travis County district attorney's office. Perry threatened the veto if the county's Democratic district attorney, Rosemary Lehmberg, stayed in office after a drunken driving conviction.

How Rick Perry's Indictment Could Help His Image
Lehmberg refused to resign and Perry carried out the veto, drawing an ethics complaint from a left-leaning government watchdog group. Perry was indicted by a grand jury in Austin, a liberal bastion in otherwise fiercely conservative Texas.

But he isn't letting the case keep him from a packed travel schedule that will take him to the early-voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina over the next two weeks. After his 2012 presidential campaign flamed out, the Republican opted not to seek re-election as governor in November - leaving him more time to focus on rehabilitating his image nationally.

If convicted on both counts, Perry could face a maximum 109 years in prison - though legal experts across the political spectrum have said the case against him may be a tough sell to a jury. No one disputes that Perry has the right to veto any measures passed by the state Legislature, including any parts of the state budget.

But the complaint against Perry alleges that by publicly threatening a veto and trying to force Lehmberg to resign, he coerced her. The Republican judge assigned to the case has assigned a San Antonio-based special prosecutor who insists the case is stronger than it may outwardly appear.

Perry has hired a team of high-powered attorneys, who are being paid with state funds to defend him.

Perry is the first Texas governor to be indicted since 1917. Top Republicans have been especially quick to defend him, though, since a jail video following Lehmberg's April 2013 arrest showed the district attorney badly slurring her words, shouting at staffers to call the sheriff, kicking the door of her cell, and sticking her tongue out. Her blood alcohol level was also three times the legal limit for driving.

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