US & Canada

Rick Perry: Charges against ex-Texas governor dismissed

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry speaks at an event in Washington on 25 September 2015 Image copyright AP

The highest criminal court in Texas has dropped an abuse of power charge against Rick Perry during his time as governor of the US state of Texas.

Mr Perry, who has twice run as a Republican presidential candidate, had been fighting the case, which he described as "unconstitutional".

"Appeals court clears @GovernorPerry of all charges. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers," his team said.

It was the second count to be dismissed over Mr Perry's use of veto authority.

He was indicted in August 2014 after months of investigation into his motivations for cutting funds amounting to $7.5m (£4.5m) to a state anti-corruption unit run by District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg.

He originally faced two charges but one, coercion by a public servant, was dismissed last summer.

And on Wednesday, the presiding judge in the state's highest court said a governor's power to exercise a veto "may not be circumscribed by the legislature, by the courts, or by district attorneys".

"When the only act that is being prosecuted is a veto, then the prosecution itself violates separation of powers," Judge Sharon Keller added.

Governor Perry, 65, was the longest-serving governor in the state's history and Texas's first indicted governor in nearly a century. He left office in 2015 as the criminal investigation got under way.

The criminal case cast a shadow over his short-lived run in the Republican presidential race for the 2016 election.

Though he was initially seen as a top-tier candidate, he dropped out in September last year after a poor showing in the polls, eclipsed by New York billionaire Donald Trump.

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