Gov. Rick Perry's cheerful mugshot quickly went viral on the internet, and now his political backers are using it on swag as a fundraising tool.
No, not mugshot mugs -- T-shirts.
The Texas governor was indicted on August 15 for alleged abuse of power, and he turned himself in for the requisite booking mugshot on August 19. Charges were filed against Perry after he carried out his threat to veto funding for the Austin-based Travis County prosecutor's office after the district attorney there refused to step down even though she was found guilty of drunk driving.
You can review the arrest and booking videos of DA Rosemary Lehmberg and draw your own conclusions as to whether she should have remained in office.
Even prominent liberal Democrats have come to the conclusion that the Rick Perry indictment is a politically motivated scheme, however.
Perry, who is not running for reelection this year, is a potential 2016 GOP presidential contender, and many believe that the felony charges are an attempt to derail his candidacy. Perry has declared that he was standing up for the rule of law and will fight the allegations vigorously. His lawyers have already filed a motion to dismiss on the grounds that the charges are an unconstitutional infringement on separation of powers.
In the meantime, his Political Action Committee (RickPAC) is selling a T-shirt for a minimum $25 donation, prompting one political consultant to refer to it as a savvy move by Team Perry equivalent to turning lemons into lemonade. The front of the T-shirt contains Perry's mugshot with the words "wanted for securing the border and defeating Democrats," while the back of the shirt shows Lemberg's less-flattering mugshot and reads "guilty for driving while intoxicated and perversion of justice."
On its website, RickPAC's mission statement indicates that it "was created to help elect conservatives across our country who share Governor Perry's strong belief in the 10th Amendment. RickPAC is dedicated to electing conservatives who will work to secure our nation's border, reduce the debt for future generations, and -- unlike so many in Washington -- focus on achieving results."In a recent visit to the key primary state of New Hampshire, Perry gave his perspective about the felony indictment to the NH Journal:
Any objective observer who looks at that video of an obviously intoxicated District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg abusing law enforcement officials and being booked into the county jail at almost twice the legal (blood alcohol) limit, and then take into account that she was involved in the Public Integrity Unit that would prosecute drunk drivers and unethical behavior by statewide public officials, it became clear that the vast majority of the people of the State of Texas would not support that office with state dollars. I'm sworn to uphold the laws of the State of Texas and one of the requirements is to have good judgment and good judgment is to say in this case that we're not going to support an agency that is headed by someone who has shown such poor judgment."According to The Wall Street Journal, the indictment and the mugshot could ironically help rather than hurt or undermine Perry's aspirations for higher office: "Mr. Perry has cast the investigation as a partisan witch hunt, and many supporters applaud him for remaining unapologetic in the face of the indictment, which stems from the Republican governor's attempt to force the resignation of a Democratic district attorney after she was convicted of drunken driving. As Mr. Perry lays the foundation for a possible second White House bid, strategists in early primary election states such as Iowa and South Carolina say the indictment would strengthen his standing among voters there."
Although a little late to the party, as it were, Texas Democrats subsequently responded by rolling out a "Rick Perry Indicted" T-shirt bearing, of course, the now-famous Rick Perry mugshot.