At the tail end of the regular legislative session, Gov. Rick Perry demanded that Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg resign because of her DWI arrest and conviction or have the state’s Public Integrity Unit, which is run by her office, face a loss of about $7.5 million.
The Texas Public Integrity Unit is in charge of investigation and prosecuting misconduct cases involving state government and is in the middle of an investigation of the state-run Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT), which involves a connection to the governor's office.
Craig McDonald heads the group Texans for Public Justice, who filed a criminal lawsuit against Perry.
"There are statutes in Texas that say you can’t use your public office to threaten or coerce an action out of another and that is exactly what the governor was doing. He was saying, 'By [being] governor, I have the right to veto your budget, and if you don’t do what I tell you to, do I’m going to veto that budget.'"
Because the case involves the Travis County District Attorney and some of the district’s judges, they had to recuse themselves from the case and a new site and judge was selected this week.
Authorities have decided the case will be heard in the 379th District Court in San Antonio and Senior District Judge Robert Richardson will be overseeing the case.
Since Perry’s line item veto, the Public Integrity Unit has sent 34 layoff notices.