Patty Kimura: Disagrees with columnist on Gov. Perry case

Last modified: Tuesday, September 02, 2014
To the editor:

I must respond to the guest column by Jay Ambrose (Gazette, Aug. 22), who suggests there is something noble and worthy in the defense of Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who is charged with two felonies by a Texas grand jury.

I found his claim stunning.

Since Perry did not demand the resignations of two other prosecutors also convicted of a DUI charge, in exchange for continued funding of their offices, reasonable people must discount his (and others’) claims that the Rosemary Lehmberg misconduct was Perry’s primary and principled reason for demanding Lehmberg’s resignation from an elected, not appointed, office.

That leaves the other option: That the people of a state expected that by creating line-item veto power, any legally elected official with constitutional line-item veto power would use that budget power to overturn the outcome of a legal election of a political foe.

The justifying comparisons suggested by some include the well-known and historic use of pressure and coercion by LBJ on other elected officials to vote in a particular way — pressure and coercion used in this way also have legal limits, which some comparison-makers don’t seem to want to admit.

LBJ could, and I am certain did, say “Vote my way, or there will be hell to pay.” It may be an unseemly way of making laws, but that is very different from a more apt Perry corollary which would have been for LBJ to say to a political foe: “Resign from Congress or I will veto all federal funding for your district.”

What’s at stake in the Perry case is the constitutional limits on the use of the line-item veto as a reasonable fiscal tool to control spending or to pressure or reward votes cast by friendly or unfriendly elected representatives — it does not, however, seem to be a reasonable assumption that it was ever intended to allow a governor or a president to attempt to trade on or void or supersede the results of the people’s elections.

A thing Gov. Perry may have attempted to do by stupidly and explicitly tying a demand for the resignation of an elected foe with continued funding of a government office, all tied together in one sweet deal.

Patty Kimura