Published February 05, 2012
Calling the jury verdict, "a travesty," Indiana's former top elections official vows to appeal the decision that found him guilty of multiple counts of voter fraud that resulted in his temporary removal from office.
Republican Secretary of State Charlie White was charged with illegally registering to vote at his ex-wife’s house, and was convicted on six of seven felony voter-related counts in the early hours Saturday morning by a Hamilton County jury in Noblesville, Ind., just north of Indianapolis.
"I found out that Indiana is a land of men and not of law," White said in an exclusive Fox News interview, contending that the jury was not given the full instructions on the charges by prosecutors.
"What I think happened yesterday was a total miscarriage of justice and a perversion. The law allows me to do everything I did and the jury not get all the law."
White had insisted that he spent four nights a week at the home, with his ex-wife's blessing, because his son lived there and that he and his fianceé did not want to live together before they married. Prosecutors claimed that he actually intended to live at a condo he bought for his fianceé that was out of the local town council district that he represented.
"At the end of the day, here's what I did," White said. "I was in love. I wasn't married yet. All I wanted to do was get my fianceé out of her parents' home while I was on the campaign trail, wanted her to stay with me and keep the relationship together. I bought a place for her and her kids to live in, but we agreed not to live together until we got married, because I was a former family law attorney. I knew how hard it can be when you are blending in three children, from two different marriages, and now I suppose the Indiana election law trumps me being able to raise my children and step-children the way that we want to."
Shortly after the verdict, Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels appointed a White deputy, Jerry Bonnet, as White's temporary replacement. Convicted felons are not allowed to serve in public office under Indiana law, and White's legal team will move to try and have the felony convictions reduced to misdemeanors, meaning that White would be able to remain in office.
But the Indiana Democratic Party wants the man White beat to take the job.
"Charlie committed a crime and will be punished for that crime," said a statement from the state party that said in part, "it is obvious that Mitch Daniels will try anything to take back this fraudulent election, but there's only one thing that should happen now: Vop Osili should become secretary of state, and we should put the embarrassment that is Charlie White behind us."
The Democrats have moved to have Osili, who White defeated in November 2010 by 20 points, 57 percent to 37 percent, to be appointed to the job. The bipartisan Indiana Recount Commission sided with White and rejected the Democrats' attempt to replace him with Osili. But in December, local Judge Louis Rosenberg ruled that Osili should take the job. That decision has been stayed for now.
"The man got beat worse than anyone in modern Indiana secretary of s`tate history, and the voters knew about this issue," said White, about Osili. "They still voted for me. This is pretty bush-league. He does not deserve this office and the Republicans deserve to take this spot because we won it."
"In this case there is no question that Charlie White was the higher vote getter," says Democratic Party lawyer Karen Celestino-Horseman, who supports the guilty verdict. She notes that in her view, it makes sense for Osili to now take the job and says the Democratic Party will be taking further steps to try and ensure that, this coming week.
"If you are going to be concerned about the people who participated in that election, it is justice to put in the person who drew that vote," she told Fox News. "Otherwise, the Republicans get to appoint somebody who did not spend any time, energy or effort in introducing themselves to the electorate, and the electorate got no say in that person taking the office. At least by turning to the second runnerup, he was the choice of 625,000 Hoosiers and that is 625,000 more votes that any appointee would have."
In the coming weeks, the position of secretary of state will become the focus of an intense fight between the Republicans and Democrats over who will control the powerful position, made even more significant in this presidential election year.
White's case will now also wind through the courts and he vows to speak out about what he sees as an injustice.
"You will hear a lot more from me about the equal application of the law that has been applied to me, versus those that are rich and famous."