Texas Gov. Rick Perry Thursday accused Democrats in his state of using the courts to hit back at Republicans for election losses, citing what he described as the "witch hunt" against former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, whose 2010 campaign money laundering conviction was overturned this week, as an example.
"I always thought the Democrats had a witch hunt against Tom, and I said so from the beginning," the Republican said in an interview with The Washington Times
. "Democrats can’t get what they want at the polls, so they use prosecutors and the courts to gain their ends."
Perry, a three-term governor who is himself under investigation by a special prosecutor
for allegedly abusing his powers as the state's chief executive, said he was pleased with a Texas appeals court ruling clearing DeLay of funneling corporate contributions to various political campaigns in the state
. DeLay, a former GOP congressman from Texas, was forced to resign as majority leader in 2005 because of charges that had been brought against him regarding campaign finance issues.
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In an editorial Friday
, Investor's Business Daily noted that DeLay had been called in the past one of "the greatest legislative leaders of all time," adding that he "almost certainly would have become Speaker of the House, fitting the Tea Party like a glove and navigating today's issues deftly, like Obamacare defunding, the debt limit, immigration and Syria," had he not been the victim of a "political vendetta."
According to the Daily Caller
, DeLay told reporters Thursday that his 2010 conviction resulted from an "outrageous criminalization of politics" and that he should never have been charged, "much less indicted."
In his Times interview, Perry, who has been mentioned frequently as a potential 2016 presidential candidate, suggested that he was interested in pursuing judicial reforms if he decides to run for president. But he told the newspaper it would be inappropriate for him discuss whether he plans to create a judicial review board in his own state to determine if prosecutions are politically motivated while under investigation himself.
According to the Times, the investigation against Perry for abuse of power stems from a run-in with Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg over his threat to withhold money from her public integrity unit, which at the time was looking into allegations of favoritism and mismanagement of public funding by the Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas. The Times said Perry was one of the center's major supporters.
The Times noted that Lehmberg had been an assistant to former Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle, who pursued the campaign money laundering case against DeLay. The Times also noted that Lehmberg's office plans to appeal the court's decision this week to overturn DeLay's conviction.
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