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Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington) took aim Monday at GOP opponent Grant Lally’s ties to Gov. Rick Perry, as the Texas Republican faces abuse of power charges.
Israel’s campaign released a YouTube video where Lally touts to the audience at a Republican primary forum that he served as New York vice-chair for Perry’s 2012 Republican presidential bid.
“I think he’s done a great job down in Texas,” Lally told the audience. “I thought he was the strongest candidate we had that year.”
Last Friday, Perry was indicted by a Texas grand jury on two counts he abused his power by vetoing $7.5 million in funding for a public integrity unit run by Democratic Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, after she refused calls to resign when she was convicted of drunken driving .
“It comes as no surprise that Grant Lally, with his history of illegal campaigning and [Federal Elections Commission] fines, would hold Governor Perry in such high regard,” Israel said in a news release, referring to a $280,000 fine Lally paid in 1998 after his failed 1994 bid for Congress.
“You cannot take Grant Lally seriously when he is more interested in propping up Rick Perry’s campaigns than he is in explaining his $280,000 FEC fine,” Israel said.
Lally ran unsuccessfully against Democratic Rep. Gary Ackerman in 1994 and 1996. In 1998, he was fined for accepting illegal campaign donations during the 1994 election, and falsely reporting them. Lally has said he paid the fine because it would have cost him more in legal fees to defend himself against a lengthy auditing process.
In an e-mail response Lally said Israel “should apologize for his cheap showboating and focus on the issues”
"It is a sad state of affairs that Steve Israel is so busy cheering dirty politics by Texas Democrats that he hasn’t got time to deal with real problems and far more serious questions right here in New York,” Lally said.
He continued to express his support for Perry, saying he “should be able to follow the Constitution without being subjected to this sort of nonsense.”
At a Saturday press conference, Perry defended his actions, saying he “wholeheartedly” stands by his decision to remove the corruption unit’s funding as long as it was tied to Lehmberg, whom he had “lost confidence in.”
Lally noted that Democrats including former senior Obama advisor David Axelrod and Republican Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal have questioned whether the charges have any merit.
Axelrod on Saturday wrote on his Twitter account : "Unless he was demonstrably trying to scrap the ethics unit for other than his stated reason, Perry indictment seems pretty sketchy.”