As most of my readers know, I had a small part in the saga of Charlie White, as I was the person who investigated reports that he had moved out of his Fishers Town Council district, and I held a press conference and reported what I found to the Hamilton County Prosecutor. Events since then have taken their course, according to the rule of law, and now White has been found guilty on 6 out of 7 felony charges.
Some people prior to the verdict had this as some sort of partisan vendetta, a subject I addressed in an earlier post, The Continuing Saga of Charlie White. That baseless complaint has mostly died down now that a jury of 12 Hamilton County citizens has rendered their verdict.
The rendering of the guilty verdict automatically disqualified Charlie White from holding the office of Secretary of State, a matter which was the subject of an ongoing court case anyway. A Marion County judge had found that White was not legally registered to vote, since he wrongly registered at his ex-wife's house, and therefore he was not validly elected, and further, according to state law, the office belonged to the second-place finisher, Vop Osili. The Indiana Attorney General appealed that case, so the court ruling is stayed and not in effect.
But, pursuant to a different law, when White's conviction automatically removed him from office, Governor Daniels appointed White's deputy to be "interim" Secretary of State. But, and this might be important, the letter appointing Jerry Bonnet does not use the "interim" tag. Here is the appointment letter. So is this an "interim" appointment, or permanent?
This is completely unknown territory. I don't recall any prior case in my lifetime where a state officer was convicted of a felony and disqualified from office, let alone have his eligibility to run for the office in the first place be challenged. We now have competing laws, and court cases, providing for completely different people to hold the office.
Even MORE complicated, since the charges which White was convicted of are Class D felonies, the Judge could possibly reduce these charges to a misdemeanor. And again, we have two different provisions of statute, this time of the same law, that conflict on whether White could regain office. One says he doesn't regain office even if reduced to a misdemeanor, and the other says he CAN if they were not related to his office, which they were not, as they arose prior to the election.
Doubtless the Courts will have to resolve this mess and more, including what happens to the Republican Party's status as a major political party in Indiana, a complication which reaches far beyond the fate of Charlie White.
This all could have been avoided if Charlie White had not arrogantly considered himself above the law. The jury has found that he knew what he was doing, and did it deliberately. He created this mess, not just for himself, his family and his political party, but for the People of Indiana.
As I said at the beginning of this, in my press conference in September 2010...
LAW BREAKERS SHOULD NOT BE LAW MAKERS.