DALLAS Former assistant U.S. attorney Michael McCrum will head the investigation of Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s actions in attempting to force the resignation of Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg.
McCrum, now a criminal attorney in San Antonio, was named to the post Monday by Senior District Judge Bert Richardson of San Antonio.
In June, Perry threatened a line-item veto of more than $7 million in funding for the district attorney’s Public Integrity Unit unless Lehmberg resigned after her conviction for driving while intoxicated.
Based in Travis County, the Public Integrity Unit is required under state to investigate allegations of wrongdoing by state agencies and public officials. The office was funded entirely by the state.
At the time Perry issued his threat, the governor was under investigation by the PIU for funding irregularities at the Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas, a $3 billion bond-funded program that awarded grants to companies backed by Perry donors without proper review.
Perry followed through on his threat to line-item veto the funding from the state budget, but the head of the PIU said that the investigation of Perry would continue. Travis County commissioners came up with sufficient funding to complete the investigation of pending cases.
The group Texans for Public Justice filed a complaint accusing Perry of violating state laws banning official coercion, bribery, abuse of official capacity and official oppression.
Perry claimed that he was upset about Lehmberg’s DWI case. But TPJ noted that Perry would have likely appointed a Republican prosecutor to replace the Democrat Lehmberg if she had resigned. Lehmberg still has nearly three years remaining in her term.
If McCrum considers the complaint valid, he could file charges against Perry or present evidence to a grand jury.