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As the Governor's Legal Team Fights Charges, Perry Stops in Midland

Governor Rick Perry speaks to reporters at a groundbreaking event for Occidental Petroleum's new Midland campus on Tuesday (KMID)

As Governor Rick Perry’s legal team continues its fight to get a Travis County court to drop the felony charges against him, Perry took to the road for an oil and gas company’s groundbreaking ceremony in Midland.

Houston-based Occidental Petroleum is building a 212,000 square foot campus that will serve as the company’s Midland headquarters. According to the governor’s office, the company is the biggest operator in the Permian Basin.

Still, across the state the focus remains on Governor Perry’s indictment on felony abuse of power charges.

Speaking to local reporters, Perry again asserted that while the state could legally pay for his legal expenses, since the case involves his official duties as governor, his team has decided to pay the cost from his campaign fund.

“I look at this as an appropriate defense of a state official,” Perry said Tuesday, “But just to keep from having folks grouse about it, we’ll pick up the cost as we go forward.”

Perry again wouldn’t elaborate on his earlier comment that the people behind the charges would be “held responsible,” saying the case is now in the hands of the legal system, but he did say his issue with the charges isn’t a partisan one.

“I don’t get confused, this is not about me,” the governor said. “This is about future governors, Democrats or Republicans - the right for them to freely be able to exercise their judgment when it comes to vetoing legislation.”

On the oil and gas company’s new Midland office, Perry said simply the region would see long-term benefits to the economy and education, saying the Basin would see “concentric circles of influence” from the resources Occidental will bring with it.

The new campus is expected to be finished in 2015, and Occidental says it may even expand beyond its current plans. The company plans to build a 24/7, year-round monitoring center that will keep track of all the company’s operations in the Basin.

Meanwhile in Austin, Perry’s lawyers are calling for the court to drop the case against him "immediately, if not sooner.”

Travis Bubenik is All Things Considered Host and Big Bend Reporter at Marfa Public Radio.