5 Popular High-Profile Governors Face Legal Trouble


Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) is joining the growing list of popular Republican governors — many with presidential ambitions — plagued by scandal in their administrations.

On Monday a state district judge named 12 jurors and two alternates to consider possible criminal charges against Perry. A day earlier Perry hired a high profile Austin-based defense lawyer to represent him. At the center of all this is an ongoing investigation over Perry vetoing funding for the Travis County District Attorney’s office. The investigation has been called “Bridgegate West” by the Dallas Morning News, a reference to an investigation of corruption in New Jersey.

But Perry isn’t alone among governors facing legal probes these days:

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R): Perhaps the governor that’s gotten the most attention over an investigation is Christie, who has continued to be dogged by the George Washington bridge traffic scandal. The latest news on that front is that a commissioner for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey resigned on Monday, just a few days after new reports of a second investigation of Christie’s ties to the Port Authority. Other Port Authority officials have quit in recent months as probes into the lane closures of the George Washington Bridge at the center of the bridge scandals have intensified. (The commissioner’s spokesman has denied that the resignation was connected to the reports on investigations of the George Washington Bridge closures.)

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R): In Wisconsin Walker faces challenges over whether he conducted illegal activity while running for governor. On Thursday, Walker’s re-election campaign asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to take up a case from the state Court of Appeals over if prosecutors could subpoena documents as part of an investigation into illegal coordination between Walker’s campaign and outside groups during recent recall elections. Walker survived one of those elections in 2012.

Gov. Nathan Deal (R): In Georgia, jurors recently awarded the former director of the state’s ethics commission $700,000 in a lawsuit arguing that she was pushed out for her aggressive investigation of complaints that focused on Deal. Since then Deal has proposed a “comprehensive” overhaul of the ethics commission in which the five-person panel is replaced with 12 members appointed by the executive, judicial, and legislative branches, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R): Earlier in the month, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta ruled that Scott’s administration broke federal law when it purged non-citizens from voter rolls during the 2012 presidential election. In a ruling of 2-1 the Court of Appeals determined that the roll purge violated the National Voter Registration Act’s “90 Days Provision” that says states have to “complete, not later than 90 days prior to the date of a primary or general election for Federal office, any program the purpose of which is to systematically remove the names of ineligible voters from the official lists of eligible voters.”