State Rep. Joe Deshotel wants to know: Why is Gov. Rick Perry hiring a private lawyer at $450 per hour to defend him in a possible court case when the state attorney general, a pal of his, is available?
And why should Texas taxpayers pay for the private lawyer?
Why, indeed, to both questions, governor?
Deshotel is a Port Arthur Democrat — and a lawyer himself. He’s posed the question as a grand jury investigates whether Perry acted improperly in vetoing $7.5 million for the Travis County district attorney’s office and then promised to restore the money if the DA, Rosemary Lehmberg, resigned. Lehmberg had been ticketed for drunken driving this past April. She also runs the office that is charged with investigating state officials’ conduct.
Oh, and she’s also a Democrat. Perry, of course, is a Republican. Coincidence? Probably not.
Deshotel has sent Attorney General Greg Abbott a four-page letter inquiring about this matter. “What authority, if any, can the attorney general authorize hiring private counsel for the governor?” Deshotel asks. “If authority to hire private counsel exists, how would the attorney general authorize payment for such private counsel?”
One of the AG’s duties as set forth in the Texas Constitution is to defend state officials who get themselves into potential legal trouble. Perry might find himself in that position if a Travis County jury indicts him. But he’s gone outside the state legal system to hire David Botsford to represent him. He’s also paying him with state money.
There’s the rub, according to Deshotel.
Let’s get the answer.