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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Ind. Gov't. - Another pre-trial story on tomorrow's Charlie White trial

"Political stakes are high as White goes on trial," is the headline of the AP's great story today, here in the FWJG, reported by Charles Wilson. The intro:

INDIANAPOLIS — Charlie White might not have been aware he could be breaking election law when he registered to vote at his ex-wife's address in Indiana's May 2010 Republican primary. But whether he acted deliberately or out of ignorance, experts say the action undermines the credibility of the state's top elections office.

"There are two scenarios, and neither one is very flattering," said Robert Dion, a political science professor at the University of Evansville. "Either he was not aware of the law — and that doesn't raise a lot of respect — that you have to live in the district you represent, (or) if he did know, that's even worse." * * *

"It's remarkable, because his position is charged with being the chief election officer for the entire state and overseeing the election laws. Out of all things, that's not what you want to be charged with," said Dion, referring to the voter fraud charge.

One judge already has ruled that White should be ousted and replaced by Vop Osili, the Democrat he defeated. If White is convicted on even one of the seven felony counts against him, Gov. Mitch Daniels — a fellow Republican — would appoint his replacement. But White likely would appeal a guilty verdict, and even if he is removed from office, odds are there will be a court fight over who gets to replace him.

The outcome of the case, whenever it occurs, "has far-reaching political consequences," Dion said. "Lasting political consequences." * * *

White has resisted calls to resign from Democrats and Republicans alike. The Indiana Recount Commission upheld his candidacy, though its chairman scolded him for "treading the line." Democrats appealed to a Marion County judge, who eventually ruled that the commission should certify Osili as the winner of the 2010 race. Both sides then asked the Indiana Supreme Court to step in, but the high court hasn't yet agreed.

James McCann, a political science professor at Purdue University, said the situation is particularly embarrassing for Republicans, since they pushed the state's voter ID law as a way to prevent voter fraud.

"It's a big political issue," McCann said. "You think from the Republicans' standpoint they'd love to see it go away."

White has protested his innocence and has steadfastly refused to quit, maintaining he is the victim of a political witch hunt.

The Supreme Court hasn't indicated whether it will take up the case. Meanwhile, White must head back to court.

"It's like a train wreck that's going in slow motion," Dion said. "Just when you think it can't get worse, it gets worse. If it were a movie, you wouldn't believe it was happening."

Posted by Marcia Oddi on January 29, 2012 10:39 AM
Posted to Indiana Government