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Lawyers for Texas' Perry ask judge for dismissal

Monday - 8/25/2014, 7:09pm  ET

FILE - In an Aug. 19, 2014 file photo, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, front right, is escorted away from the Blackwell Thurman Criminal Justice Center, in Austin, Texas. Just when Perry was feeling like governor non grata, a felony indictment accusing him of abusing his power has energized Texas conservatives, who claim it’s a politically motivated attack in an important election year. It’s also put the spotlight back on Perry, who is trying to rehabilitate his political image before leaving office in January and convince would-be 2016 Republican primary voters across America he’s worth a second look following an embarrassing White House bid three years ago. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

PAUL J. WEBER
Associated Press

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- Attorneys for indicted Republican Texas Gov. Rick Perry formally asked a judge Monday to dismiss felony charges alleging that the possible 2016 presidential candidate abused his power with a veto last summer.

In a 60-page motion filed in state district court in Austin, Perry's high-powered defense team argues that the law being used to prosecute the longest-serving governor in Texas history is unconstitutionally vague.

They go on to claim that "attempts to convert inescapably political disputes into criminal complaints" shouldn't be allowed to go forward. Since being indicted on two felony counts more than a week ago, Perry has emphatically rejected the charges as a political ploy and pleaded not guilty.

Perry is accused of leveraging his veto power in June 2013 to try to oust a Democratic district attorney who was convicted of drunken driving.

"Texans deserve what their State's constitution guarantees: a Governor with the power to approve or disapprove of bills," reads the filing.

The filing was not unexpected. While Perry was in New Hampshire on Friday continuing his courtship of GOP voters for another potential White House run, one of his attorneys said the motion was imminent following a meeting in Austin with the Republican judge overseeing the case.

Michael McCrum, the special prosecutor, emerged from that meeting saying he remained confident in the charges.

Perry cut off $7.5 million in state funds to the unit -- which prosecutes public corruption in Texas -- when Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg refused to resign following her drunken driving arrest.

Perry is charged with violating a section of state corruption laws that his attorneys argue "is fatally vague and overbroad" and doesn't define what actions are legal on one hand and illegal on the other.

He is charged with abuse of official capacity and coercion of a public servant. If convicted, Perry could face a maximum 109 years in prison.

Perry's 2012 presidential campaign ended badly after he made several missteps, and he told business leaders in New Hampshire last week that he has yet to decide whether he will run again in 2016.

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Follow Paul J. Weber on Twitter: www.twitter.com/pauljweber


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