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 argued that the law being used to prosecute the longest-serving governor in Texas history is unconstitutionally vague.
“Subjecting any sitting Governor to a criminal prosecution and injecting the judiciary into a political dispute would be an unprecedented assault on this cherished separation of powers, and would impose an intolerable and incalculable chilling effect on the free exercise of legitimate constitutional powers by future governors,” Perry’s legal team noted in the writ.
They went 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 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 state laws related to bribery and corruption. His attorneys argue in the filing that the section of the law "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.