Case closed at last on ousted Indiana secretary Charlie White
INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana: After indefinite postponement, the Indiana Supreme Court voted unanimously this morning to overturn a decision by Marion County judge Louis Rosenberg in a voter fraud case involving Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White. Rosenberg had ruled that White was ineligible to run for the statewide office in 2010 and therefore the seat belongs to White's Democratic opponent Vop Osili- the election's second-place finisher. The Supreme Court reversed Rosenberg's decision, finding that White, when elected in November 2010, was eligible to take office.
Indiana's Democratic party instigated the suit on the hope that a civil verdict affirming White's invalid registration two years ago would supersede the outcome of his criminal case, which concluded in early February with six felony convictions and White's automatic expulsion from office. According to Indiana state law, the governor is entitled to appoint a replacement to serve out an ousted official's term, but Gov. Mitch Daniels had to suspend making a permanent choice until the state's highest court could make its decision about whether the recount commission could certify Osili's default claim to the seat.
The court ultimately determined that the civil and criminal cases were unrelated, upholding Daniels' constitutional right to fill the vacancy created by White's charges and subsequent sentencing.
"Now that the duty to select a new Secretary of State is certain, we'll do so with promptness," Daniels said in a statement after the court issued its decision.
Daniels named White's deputy chief Jerry Bonnet (R) as the interim secretary upon White's removal. Bonnet will likely be chosen to serve the remainder of the term, to the immense disappointment of the Democrats who wished to see their man installed instead.
- Associated Press, "Indiana Supreme Court clears way for Republican governor to appoint new secretary of state," March 15, 2012
- Indy Star, "Charlie White eligible to run for office, court decides," March 15, 2012
- Election Law Blog, "Breaking News: Indiana Supreme Court Unanimously Reverses in Charlie White Case, Says He’s Eligible for His Sec. of State’s Office," March 15, 2012