Rick Perry has one less felony charge to worry about as he embarks on his long-shot Republican presidential bid, as a federal appeals court today tossed one of two felony abuse-of-power charges against the former Texas governor.
Last summer, Perry was indicted by a grand jury on charges of felony charges of abuse of power and coercion of a public official. Perry, who was the governor at the time, was accused of blackmailing a public official. Perry vetoed a funding request for the office of Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, a Democrat. The veto, prosecutors allege, fulfilled a threat Perry made after Lehmberg refused to resign following her arrest for drunk driving in 2013.
A second court has refused to dismiss all charges against Perry but the 3rd Court of Appeals in Austin did drop the charge of coercion, claiming the law forbidding such acts violated the First Amendment. Perry had unsuccessfully petitioned a lower court to drop all the charges, twice.
Perry has argued that he carried out his "constitutional duty," and claimed that he would do it all over again. The two-time Republican presidential candidate has claimed that the entire prosecution is politically motivated and jokes that that he actually wears the charges as a "badge of honor." Ahead of his campaign launch, Perry used his mugshot as a fundraising appeal.