IBJNews

Panel to rule in June on election chief challenge

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

The Indiana Recount Commission agreed Wednesday to rule by late June on whether indicted secretary of state Charlie White was eligible for office when he was elected six months ago.

Commission Chairman Thomas E. Wheeler II set a June 30 deadline for the three-member panel to rule on Democrats' contention that White, a Republican, was not legally registered to vote when he declared his candidacy to become the state's top elections official.

The commission, which will hold a daylong hearing June 21 on the Democrats' challenge, had initially dismissed the party's challenge in December. But a Marion County judge last week ordered the panel to settle the dispute.

Democrats want to depose White to gather information for their case, but White's attorneys have argued that White could incriminate himself in the criminal case he faces by defending himself in the civil case before the panel.

Wheeler, a Republican, gave attorneys for White and state Democrats until May 13 to try to settle their differences about evidence in the election challenge.

"I truly hope that you will do that because it will make it go a lot faster and I don't think the public is interested in seeing a lot of squabbling over this," he said.

Wheeler said he wants to resolve the challenge "as expeditiously as possible."

Democrats filed their challenge after the November election but before a Hamilton County grand jury indicted White in March on seven counts that include voter fraud and perjury for using his ex-wife's address on a voter registration form.

White has blamed the error on his busy schedule and new marriage and calls it an honest mistake. If convicted of a felony, he would have to resign.

Democrats contend that under state law Democrat Vop Osili, who lost to White by about 345,000 votes in the Nov. 2 election, should take office if White is declared to have been ineligible when he ran for the statewide office.

Wheeler was appointed the panel's chairman last week by Indiana's Republican Party chairman after White recused himself from hearing his own case on the panel.

The commission had dismissed Democrats' challenge to White's eligibility in December. But Marion Circuit Court Judge Louis Rosenberg last week rejected White's bid to stall the Democratic challenge of his eligibility until the criminal case against him is resolved.

Rosenberg said "the public interest is in resolving this matter" and there's no guarantee White's criminal trial on voter fraud and other charges will be held Aug. 8 as scheduled.

Wheeler said Rosenberg has ordered the commission to decide the matter no later than July 6. He urged attorneys for White and the Democrats Wednesday to steer clear of partisan attacks.

"I would admonish both parties — this is not a partisan process here and we won't tolerate partisan attacks by either party," Wheeler said.

The commission voted unanimously Wednesday to direct the secretary of state's office to turn over to Indiana's attorney general's office within 24 hours a report on White that was prepared late last year by the staff of his predecessor, Todd Rokita.

Wheeler said he and the panel's two other members — Democrat Bernard Pylitt and Republican Gordon Durnil — will take turns reading the report and decide what parts might need to be withheld.

Karen Celestino-Horseman, an attorney for Indiana Democrats, said after Wednesday's meeting that Democrats had wanted a shorter timeframe for resolving the case.

"There's no reason that it should be dragging on the way it has been," she said.

James Bopp, who's representing White in the civil challenge, said he will file an appeal with the Indiana Court of Appeals asking it to postpone the election challenge until after White's criminal case is resolved. He said doing so would prevent White from giving testimony to the commission that could later be used against White at trial.

"That's a dilemma we believe he should not be constitutionally subjected to," Bopp said.

The Indiana secretary of state's office, through its bipartisan election division, oversees voter registration and election matters across the state. Those functions, however, are primarily handled by county election boards and clerks' offices.

ADVERTISEMENT

  • Idiot
    Charlie - you're an idiot. I'm a staunch conservative & hope that the Governor gets to appoint your replacement. No the Democrats should not be able to put their candidate in the seat, they lost significantly (not that that matters). Charlie, resign, join the quesitonable Brizzi's of the party and go away.

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. A Tilted Kilt at a water park themed hotel? Who planned that one? I guess the Dad's need something to do while the kids are on the water slides.

  2. Don't come down on the fair for offering drinks. This is a craft and certainly one that belongs in agriculture due to ingredients. And for those worrying about how much you can drink. I'm sure it's more to do with liability than anything else. They don't want people suing for being over served. If you want a buzz, do a little pre-drinking before you go.

  3. I don't drink but go into this "controlled area" so my friend can drink. They have their 3 drink limit and then I give my friend my 3 drink limit. How is the fair going to control this very likely situation????

  4. I feel the conditions of the alcohol sales are a bit heavy handed, but you need to realize this is the first year in quite some time that beer & wine will be sold at the fair. They're starting off slowly to get a gauge on how it will perform this year - I would assume if everything goes fine that they relax some of the limits in the next year or couple of years. That said, I think requiring the consumption of alcohol to only occur in the beer tent is a bit much. That is going to be an awkward situation for those with minors - "Honey, I'm getting a beer... Ok, sure go ahead... Alright see you in just a min- half an hour."

  5. This might be an effort on the part of the State Fair Board to manage the risk until they get a better feel for it. However, the blanket notion that alcohol should not be served at "family oriented" events is perhaps an oversimplification. and not too realistic. For 15 years, I was a volunteer at the Indianapolis Air Show, which was as family oriented an event as it gets. We sold beer donated by Monarch Beverage Company and served by licensed and trained employees of United Package Liquors who were unpaid volunteers. And where did that money go? To central Indiana children's charities, including Riley Hospital for Children! It's all about managing the risk.

ADVERTISEMENT