State officials break ground at swearing-in ceremony

Indiana history was made during a Statehouse ceremony Wednesday, as three Republican women elected as Indiana's secretary of state, treasurer and auditor were formally sworn in to office.

Secretary of State Connie Lawson, Auditor Suzanne Crouch and Treasurer Kelly Mitchell all won the November election by wide margins, and this is the first time all three positions have been held by women at the same time.

Republican Gov. Mike Pence acknowledged the moment, but said the Republican candidates were chosen based on their experience and qualifications for the roles.

Their terms started Jan. 1, but each had taken office earlier after their predecessors either resigned or were forced out.

Lawson is a former state senator who was appointed to the job in 2012 to fill the remainder of former Secretary of State Charlie White's term. White was removed from office following his conviction on voter fraud charges stemming from his 2010 campaign.

Lawson said Wednesday she has focused since her appointment on her duties and not on the controversy surrounding White.

"We talked to the public and we talked to elected officials making sure that they understood the importance of the office and the great things we were doing," Lawson said. "I've been focusing on the office, not on anything that happened in the past."

Pence appointed Crouch to replace Auditor Dwayne Sawyer, who resigned in 2013 after four months in the job, because of unexplained personal reasons. Sawyer had taken the position after Pence picked Tim Berry, who was re-elected as state auditor in 2010, as the state Republican chairman.

Crouch said the transition between leadership didn't affect the office's performance.

Mitchell took office in mid-November to complete the term of Richard Mourdock, the unsuccessful GOP 2012 U.S. Senate nominee who resigned as treasurer in August before the end of his second term to avoid a cut in retirement benefits for state workers.

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