Indiana Secretary Of State Faces Possible Removal From Office
5:53 AM, Jan 3, 2012
A judge said he will rule by Wednesday morning on whether Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White can remain in office while he appeals an order removing him from the statewide post.Marion Circuit Court Judge Louis Rosenberg said at the end of a 45-minute hearing Tuesday that he'll rule by that time on White's request.Rosenberg issued an order Dec. 22 ousting White because he was improperly registered as a candidate when he ran for office in 2010.But he stayed that order pending Tuesday's hearing requested by White, who was not at Tuesday's hearing but has filed a notice of appeal."He should grant a stay because in the event that his opinion is wrong, which I believe it is, it would involve major disruptions to the state of Indiana and the secretary of state's office," said David Brooks, White's attorney. "For us to install Vop Osili and then have the court overturn it and reinstall Charlie White makes no sense, and so I think it would be common and sensible for the court to stay its opinion and let the higher courts decide whether it was right or wrong."Indiana's attorney general also is appealing Rosenberg's Dec. 22 order because it reverses a unanimous decision by the Indiana Recount Commission in June that White was eligible to run for office last year despite questions over his residency.Rosenberg had ordered the commission to certify Democrat Vop Osili as secretary of state because he received the second most votes in the 2010 election.Democrats seeking White's ouster outlined a proposed stay order Tuesday that would call for Osili to be sworn in as secretary of state if White resigns or if he is convicted of criminal charges in a separate case in Hamilton County."A stay is meant to keep the status quo. Well, there's another extenuating circumstance in this particular case -- a trial that's going to start on Jan. 29 that could disrupt the status quo," said Dan Parker, chairman of the Indiana Democratic Party.Tuesday's hearing came in a civil lawsuit brought by Democrats seeking to have the commission's decision overturned and White removed from office and replaced by Osili. White collected nearly 977,000 votes in the election, while Osili got just over 632,000.State Attorney General Greg Zoeller has said he will appeal Rosenberg's ruling on behalf of the Recount Commission."Because the Recount Commission's unanimous decision was reversed, we must defend their process through appellate review," Attorney General Greg Zoeller said in a statement. "We contend that staying the order until the appeal is resolved in this complicated case would be the appropriate legal step."As secretary of state, White is Indiana's top elections official. He won election despite accusations that he lied about where he lived in the 2010 primary so he could continue collecting his salary as a member of the town council in Fishers, just north of Indianapolis.White is facing voter fraud and other charges in a criminal case that arose from those allegations. He has maintained his innocence, saying the accusations were politically motivated.A Hamilton County grand jury indicted White in March on seven felony counts alleging that he used his ex-wife's address on voter registration and other documents while he actually lived at a condo where he intended to live with his new wife, and that he collected his council salary after moving out of the district he represented.White has said the allegations ignored a complicated personal life in which he was trying to raise his 10-year-old son, plan his second marriage and campaign for statewide office.Hamilton Superior Court Judge Steven Nation last month rejected White's motion to dismiss the seven felony counts and ruled that his trial in Noblesville will begin Jan. 30.