"Texans do not have the right to recall state office holders. But the Legislature has the right to impeach state officials.”
August 18, 2007
By JOANN LIVINGSTON, Managing Editor
Waxahachie Daily Light
Gov. Rick Perry has yet another fight on his hands, with Independent Texans formally launching an effort to bring his tenure in public office to an end.
From bumper stickers promoting its Web site - impeachperry.com, which can also be accessed via www.indytexans.org - to a top 10 list of reasons why Perry should be impeached to public presentations, the group says it will push the state Legislature to remove a governor that it says is no longer in touch with his constituency.
“Citizens across the state and from across the political spectrum have been calling their local civic and political organizations ever since the Legislature went home last May, asking what they can do to remove Rick Perry from the governor’s office,” reads a press release from Independent Texans announcing the effort. “The answer they get is this: Texans do not have the right to recall state office holders. But the Legislature has the right to impeach state officials.”
Local Daily Light columnist Paul Perry had called for the governor’s impeachment this spring.
In a column in today’s paper, Paul Perry — no relation to the Rick Perry — writes about Independent Texans’ move and says, “This governor has failed Republicans, conservatives and Texans of all political stripes by granting monopoly and governmental powers to private interests. This economic system has been tried before. It was called mercantilism and, at its worst, it contains the elements of fascism.”
Asked if there was comment from the governor’s office about the move for impeachment, a spokesman for Perry responded via e-mail, “Not really,” adding, “Free speech is a wonderful thing!”
In her statement, Independent Texans founder Linda Curtis called for the administration to be “neutered.”
“The only Texas governor to be impeached was James ‘Pa’ Ferguson back in 1917,” Curtis said. “It all started when he vetoed an appropriation for the University of Texas. Then a charge emerged that Ferguson was giving highway contracts to his friends in return for kickbacks.
“Perry’s insistence on ramming his freeway toll and TransTexas Corridor scams down our throats and the continued shell game with billions of transportation dollars, had already brought the call for Perry’s removal to a near boiling point,” Curtis said. “When Rick Perry vetoed a very necessary appropriation for our community colleges, that’s when the call for his impeachment began being taken seriously.
“We intend to take this campaign out across the state, to all political camps, and to neuter this administration,” Curtis said. “Whether or not that leads to Perry’s impeachment will be up to the Legislature. Let’s see if history does indeed repeat itself.”
The Independent Texans Web site refers to the governor’s “universally hated plan” for the Trans-Texas Corridor and freeway-to-tollway privatization. The group is critical of his veto of eminent domain reform, which it says would have prevented the taking of more than 1 million acres of farm and ranchland, described by Independent Texans as “the largest land seizure in U.S. history.”
“It’s the way our democratic system works,” Ellis County Republican chairman Rusty Ballard said. “If people think they can gain enough momentum toward impeachment of any elected official, that’s what freedom is all about.
“Personally, I don’t think it’s going to go terribly far, but they’re definitely willing to try,” Ballard said. “That’s what makes our system work - people who try to do these types of things.”
The Independent Texans Web site describes its work as a grassroots effort by ordinary people - and extends its criticism to include House Speaker Tom Craddick, R-Midland, for “his autocratic ways.”
Craddick himself is embroiled in an ongoing fight over whether or not he will retain his speakership and an opinion is pending with State Attorney General Greg Abbott over how he handled the Legislature during the session’s waning days.
State Rep. Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, argued in his brief to Abbott there was never any intent anywhere to create a “divine speakership” that could not be held accountable and removed.
“Gov. Rick Perry - and his gang - though barely holding on to Texas, are still squeezing the life out of us,” the Independent Texans Web site notes, continuing, “And Perry, along with House Speaker Tom Craddick and his autocratic ways, has pushed Texas politics to the brink of a constitutional crisis. Do these guys really have unchecked power over the people of Texas?”
Independent Texans points out Perry returned to office with only 39 percent of the vote and says it intends to unite the plurality of voters against him on the impeachment effort.
“We are turning Perry’s attacks on the people of Texas in to a mobilization of the 42 percent (and growing) plurality of voters who do not identify with a political party and who self-identify as independent with a small ‘i’,” the site reads, noting it is pushing for an impeachment resolution to be filed at the start of the 2009 session.
Columnist Paul Perry notes, “(I) think it would be in the best interest of Texas and Texans for this governor to retire now or face impeachment.”
Recall vs. impeachment
According to Independent Texans, Texas is not one of 18 states where voters have the right to recall state elected officials - although they enjoy that privilege at the municipal level.
Impeachment, the group says, has to be done by a majority vote of the Legislature.
The group quotes the Political Almanac: “Efforts to remove a governor begin in the Texas House of Representatives, which must cast a majority vote in favor of impeachment. Such a vote amounts to bringing formal charges against a governor. The Texas Constitution, however, does not provide any specific grounds for impeachment, leaving such judgments in the hands of the Legislature. … This is similar to the national constitution; impeachment is based on the commission of ‘high crimes and misdemeanors,’ but after more than two hundred years there is still no consensus as to what this phrase means in practice.”
Impeachment would be followed by a trial in the state Senate, according to the Web site, which notes conviction requires a two-thirds vote.
Independent Texans has said it will target allies of Perry in the upcoming election cycle - and names state Rep. Mike Krusee, R-Round Rock, as its No. 1 choice to defeat.
The group says Krusee “could have been a contender” and describes him as “smart, savvy and even good-looking” but says he “just won’t get up off the governor’s toll road and Trans-Texas Corridor obsession.”
The site is calling for nominations to be added to its “target list.”
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