UPDATE: Dem activist on Perry grand jury doubles down

August 22, 2014

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AUSTIN, Texas – A Democratic activist who served on the grand jury that indicted Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) insists she doesn’t see anything wrong with serving on a grand jury involving a high profile political leader and being heavily involved in partisan state politics.

Rho Chalmers took to Facebook to defend her actions after Media Trackers revealed she was a delegate to the Texas Democratic Party convention in June while the grand jury was deliberating.

“I’ll find out about being a delegate during Jury duty. I read the Grand Jury rules and didn’t see anything about it, but I’ll contact the office to verify this [sic],” she wrote in a post on Wednesday.

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Chalmers was quoted by the Houston Chronicle earlier this week defending the actions of the grand jury and downplaying the role politics might have played in the process. “For me, it’s not a political decision. That’s what a grand jury is about – take the emotion out of it and look at the facts and make your best decision based on your life experience,” she said.

Media Trackers found on Wednesday that Chalmers was a delegate to the Texas Democratic Party convention in June and served on the rules committee of the convention.

A further review of Chalmer’s social media activity has found her urging fellow Austin-area friends to attend a local Democratic Party event on June 17. That was before the political convention but still during the grand jury proceedings.

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When a friend said she couldn’t make it to the Democratic event, Chalmers wrote, “Next month…they always have great speakers, cool topics, and fun/open social chat.”

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This event was scheduled on a different day than the event Chalmer’s attended on June 27 where she listened to state Sen. Kirk Watson (D) talk about Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis. Chalmer’s took a picture of Watson speaking and uploaded it to her Facebook page. Watson appeared before the grand jury as a witness.

According to Texas state law, grand jurors are not supposed to publicly talk about proceedings on the grand jury:

When the grand jury is completed, the court shall appoint one of the number foreman; and the following oath shall be administered by the court, or under its direction, to the jurors: “You solemnly swear that you will diligently inquire into, and true presentment make, of all such matters and things as shall be given you in charge; the State’s counsel, your fellows and your own, you shall keep secret, unless required to disclose the same in the course of a judicial proceeding in which the truth or falsity of evidence given in the grand jury room, in a criminal case, shall be under investigation. You shall present no person from envy, hatred or malice; neither shall you leave any person unpresented for love, fear, favor, affection or hope of reward; but you shall present things truly as they come to your knowledge, according to the best of your understanding, so help you God”.

Special Prosecutor Mike McCrum has been tight lipped since the indictment was returned, only commenting that he was able to secure an indictment on only two counts and not the four counts the original complaint laid out.

According to the Travis County Clerk’s office the members of the grand jury that indicted Perry were:

Charles Meyers
Teddy Thompson
Scott Hillman
Julia Wilkinson
Janna Bessin
David Pugh
Angela Morton
Eriberto Sanchez
Rhoda Chalmers
Della Tyus
Mark Cooper
Amy Romero

Democrats have alleged that Perry may have been involved in trying to stop a Public Integrity Unit investigation of the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas when he vetoed PIU state funding. However, a Travis County investigator made clear in an affidavit on Wednesday that Perry was never suspected of wrongdoing in that matter.

Authored by Brian Sikma

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