CONCORD – The state Republican Party gave a strong vote of confidence Monday morning to Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who is scheduled to visit the state later this week after being indicted by a grand jury in his home state on charges related to alleged abuse of power.
Perry says the charges are politically-based and has promised to fight them. State GOP Chairman Jennifer Horn called the charges against Perry “ridiculous” in a statement Monday morning. She said the party will welcome Perry.
She also took the occasion to criticize Gov. Maggie Hassan and Attorney General Joseph Foster over the handling of a controversy in the Rockingham County Attorney’s office earlier this year.
State and national Democrats, however, derided Perry and said the charges stand in stark contrast to the “law and order” image he projects for himself.
A Republican potential 2016 presidential candidate, Perry will be in the state on Friday and Saturday for several events, including a NHGOP “Victory Rally” on Saturday in Stratham. He is also scheduled on Saturday to attend a picnic in Chichester co-hosted by the Merrimack County and Concord Republican committees and be the featured guest at a Friday evening forum hosted by the Americans for Prosperity Foundation of New Hampshire.
Also on Friday, Perry will appear at a Portsmouth Business Leaders Luncheon, hosted by Renee Plummer, and a Nashua Republican Committee reception at the home of Pete Silva.
And on Saturday, he will attend “Defend Freedom Pork Roast” at the Rochester Fairgrounds.
Perry on Sunday defended his decision to veto funding for a state anti-corruption unit after a district attorney refused to resign after he publicly asked her to do so following her arrest and conviction on drunk driving charges. He also claimed the indictment was part of a larger “rule of law” problem in government.
“I stood up for the rule of law in the state of Texas, and if I had to do it again, I would make exactly the same decision,” Perry said on Fox News Sunday.
According to the Washington Post, at issue is Perry’s decision to veto $7.5 million in funding for an anti-corruption unit that is part of the Travis County district attorney’s office. Perry wanted Democrat Rosemary Lehmberg, the district attorney for Travis County, to step down after her April 2013 drunken-driving arrest. She declined, and Perry made good on his threat to withhold the money. A watchdog group filed an ethics complaint that led to Perry’s indictment on two felony counts.
New Hampshire Republican State Committee Chairman Jennifer Horn released the following statement on Perry’s upcoming visit to New Hampshire.
“The New Hampshire Republican State Committee is proud to host elected officials and conservative leaders from across the country. We welcome their visits to our state to meet our outstanding grassroots activists and discuss their vision for the future of our country.
“The accusations made against Governor Rick Perry are so ridiculous that even President Obama’s top adviser David Axelrod called them ‘pretty sketchy.’ It appears that partisan political operatives are trying to smear the governor for demanding accountability from a politician who had lost the public’s confidence after she was convicted of a crime and thrown in jail. It is obvious to anybody who watches the video of the District Attorney’s disgraceful conduct that she did not deserve to remain in office.”
Horn continued, “Earlier this year, Governor Maggie Hassan’s handpicked Attorney General Joe Foster tried to force an elected County Attorney to resign after allegations of misconduct were made against him. The County Attorney was never charged or convicted of a crime, but the Attorney General still pressed him to leave office. Democrats who promote the absurd accusations made against Governor Perry must also believe that Attorney General Foster is guilty of these ludicrous charges.
“The New Hampshire Republican State Committee is pleased to welcome Governor Perry to the Granite State and we are looking forward to his visit,” Horn said.
While in New Hampshire on Monday, Arizona Sen. John McCain called the charges against Perry “outrageous” and noted that even Axelrod, a former to adviser to President Barack Obama called the indictment “pretty sketchy.” Other potential rivals for the GOP 2016 presidential nomination also defended him.
But Democratic National Committee saying that, “as the NHGOP doubles down this morning on their invitation of scandal-plagued Governor Rick Perry to New Hampshire this weekend,” issued a statement from national party communications director Director Mo Elleithee:
“For a guy who prides himself on being Mr. Law & Order, he seems to have little respect for the rule of law. This isn’t a partisan witch hunt. It’s our legal process. An independent and non-partisan special prosecutor was tapped by a Republican-appointed judge to look into allegations Perry abused his power, and he presented his case to a non-partisan grand jury.
“They determined, based on the facts and the law, that there was enough evidence to bring back an indictment. Governor Perry will have his day in court to make his case. But his bluster today doesn’t change the fact that a grand jury — not partisan activists — found enough evidence to indict him for abuse of power. And that fact alone is very concerning,” Elleithee said.
The DNC issued a lengthy memo entitled “Why the Perry indictment matters.” In it Elleithee said the investigation into Perry’s conduct “was not partisan” and questioned his motives.
The state Democratic Party issued a fund-raising email soon after the NHGOP issued its pro-Perry statement.
“Friends, we don’t need Republicans like Rick Perry bringing his brand of politics to our state,” it said. “If you want to fight back and keep our state moving forward, help us out before our midnight deadline.”