Charlie White mulls next steps after guilty verdict

Charlie White talks to reporters after the verdict.
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A Hamilton County jury found Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White guilty of six counts of voter fraud early Saturday. White has been replaced in office by an interim Secretary of State.

The slow gait and slumped shoulders told you all you needed to know. Secretary of State Charlie White's legal fight to stay in office had come to an abrupt halt.

"Jury verdicts always speak much more eloquently than the prosecutors," said DJ Sigler, special prosecutor.

A Hamilton County jury rendered White guilty on six of seven voter fraud-related charges early Saturday.

"Disappointed with the decision. Disappointed for my family and the people who supported me. We will review all of our options," White told reporters.

Gov. Mitch Daniels acted swiftly after the ruling was handed down by appointing Jerry Bonnett as the new interim Secretary of State. Bonnett will stay with the interim label until the judge in this case finally rules on whether the charges should remain a felony or be reduced to misdemeanors.

"Because it is not worthy of that, but as a misdemeanor," said Carl Brizzi, White's attorney.

"Our position is the jury convicted him of six felonies and we believe he should be sentenced on the basis of six felonies, which is the jury's verdict," said John Down, special prosecutor.

White was accused of lying about where lived to keep a $1,000-a-month job on the Fishers Town Council. Democrats have always maintained that Vop Osili, who finished second to White, should assume the office.

"If that doesn't happen, whoever steps into there will be temporary until it is decided by the State Supreme Court," said Karen Celestino-Horseman, attorney.

A native of Yorktown, Jerry Bonnet has served in the Secretary of State's office since 2005. In a short statement, the governor said if the felony convictions are not altered he would make a permanent appointment quickly.

Indiana law bars anyone convicted of a felony from remaining in office.

Party reaction

The Libertarian Party of Indiana released this statement:

"Charlie White's situation has become untenable, and Indiana needs to move past this sad chapter in Indiana political history," said Sam Goldstein, Chairman of the Libertarian Party of Indiana. "White needs to remove himself from office by resigning, and focus now on his own personal issues. Indiana cannot afford to have a lame-duck Secretary of State for the next three years."

"White's situation shows the brokenness of our election law. From the murkiness of residency requirements to the potential loss of ballot access for the Republican Party for four years, Indiana's election laws need serious reform to bring stability, openness, and clarity to our electoral system. White is not the person to lead this wave of reform."

The Indiana Democratic Party posted comments on their site which read in part:

"...Early this morning, instead of doing the right thing, Daniels temporarily appointed White's chief deputy to the job and said he'd reinstate White if his vote fraud convictions are reduced to misdemeanors.

It's obvious that Daniels and the GOP will try anything to take back this election, but there's only one thing that should happen now: Vop Osili should become Secretary of State, and we should all put the embarrassment that is Charlie White behind us.

This conviction is liberating for Hoosiers who've known since 2010 that White should never have been elected, but Indiana Democrats will not rest until we win the fight against Republican hypocrisy on voter fraud and Vop is lawfully seated as Secretary of State."

The Indiana Republican Party did not release a statement on White's case Saturday.