Ind. Elections Chief Charged With Voter Fraud
Indiana's top elections official was indicted Thursday on voter fraud and other charges for allegedly listing his ex-wife's address as his own on voting and loan forms and serving on a town council when he was ineligible, a prosecutor said.
The Hamilton County grand jury charged Republican Secretary of State Charlie White with seven felony counts in all, including three counts of voter fraud, two counts of perjury and one count each of theft and financial fraud, said John Dowd, one of two special prosecutors asked to investigate the matter.
White, who would be forced to resign if convicted of any of the charges, surrendered to authorities at the Hamilton County Jail in Noblesville. A jail officer said White had been booked and released, but she had no information about bail.
White issued a statement saying he is disappointed at the charges and believes the evidence will prove he didn't intentionally break the law. He said he will not step aside, despite calls for him to do so by Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels and the heads of the Indiana Republican and Democratic parties.
"I will continue to do the job I was elected to do and carry on serving the needs of Hoosier taxpayers through the Secretary of State's office," White said.
Prosecutors contend that White voted in last May's Republican primary after moving out of his ex-wife's home in Fishers and the town council district he represented. White has previously acknowledged the voting error, chalking it up to his busy schedule and new marriage.
He is charged with theft for allegedly continuing to collect a salary from the town council after he was no longer eligible to serve on it. The financial fraud charge pertains to White's allegedly lying under oath about his address on loan documents, Dowd said.
Dowd said the grand jury wasn't sure where White had actually resided, "but the grand jury didn't believe it was where he claimed."
Indiana Democrats called attention to the address discrepancy after White voted in last May's Republican primary. They contend White intentionally skirted the law to keep his seat on the town council.
Dan Parker, the state Democratic Party chairman, said White should resign immediately.
"The judicial system has validated what we have believed all along: Charlie White should never have been on the ballot as a candidate for public office. Much like his voting record, White's entire campaign was a fraud," Parker said.
Daniels called the charges "sad and regrettable," and he and state Republican Party Chairman Eric Holcomb said White should recuse himself, at least until the case is resolved.
"It would be neither credible nor appropriate for the state's top elections official to continue to perform his duties while contesting criminal charges, some of them under the very laws the Secretary of State implements," Daniels said.
Daniels met with White in December and urged him to postpone taking office until the issue had been resolved, but White rejected the idea, according to a Statehouse official with knowledge of the matter. The official wasn't authorized to discuss the matter and spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity.
Dowd, a Republican and a former Warren County prosecutor, and Daniel Sigler, a Democrat and former Adams County prosecutor, were assigned to investigate the allegations because White was the Hamilton County Republican Party chairman until the end of 2010 and all of Hamilton County's countywide elected officials are Republican, Hamilton County's chief deputy prosecutor, Jeff Wehmueller, has said.
If convicted of the financial fraud charge, White could be sentenced to up to eight years in prison, Dowd said. The other six charges carry maximum penalties of six months to three years in prison, he said.