A state appeals court on Friday threw out one of two charges in a felony abuse-of-power case against former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R).
The Republican presidential candidate was indicted last summer by a state grand jury on one count of abuse of power and one count of coercion of a public servant. The charges stemmed from Perry carrying out a threat to veto funds for the office of Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, a Democrat who refused to resign after she was arrested for drunken driving in 2013.
Perry’s legal team had been unsuccessful in convincing a district judge to toss the case, arguing that the law used to prosecute him was vague and “attempts to convert inescapably political disputes into criminal complaints.”
But Texas’ 3rd Court of Appeals ruled Friday that charge of coercion of a public servant must be dismissed because the law on which it was based violates the First Amendment.
The appeals court ruled that the abuse of power charge still stands, however.
Perry has called the indictment against him a “farce” and an “abuse of power” in itself. But he also used the indictment to his advantage prior to launching his presidential campaign by giving away T-shirts emblazoned with his bespectacled mugshot in exchange for donations to his political action committee, RickPAC.