Saturday, June 11, 2011

Secretary of State calls for Special Prosecutor to investigate Special Prosecutor

I don't normally talk Indiana politics, but I couldn't resist the headline.  Advance Indiana has the details:
The special prosecutor who brought criminal charges against Secretary of State Charlie White alleging he committed voter fraud by casting a vote in a precinct in which he allegedly did not reside is facing a criminal complaint against him for the very same charges he has brought against White. The person leveling the charges against Special Prosecutor Dan Sigler is Secretary of State Charlie White. If the allegations White alleges against his accuser are true, it's a case of the pot calling the kettle black.
Advance Indiana shows the text of White's complaint.  I can't say I find White's complaint impressive.  The consistent theme of White's defense can be seen threaded through this document.  For instance:

On or about May 2008, Nancy M. Sigler votes in the Democrat Primary allegedly using her address at 1783 North Wilson Lake Road, Columbia City (Richland North).  She allegedly was never registered at her property at 183 Wildthorne, Columbia City (Columbia 7).   This may explain why he told my wife’s former attorney why he could not go after her for voting in the wrong precinct in 2010 because ‘you would have to go after everyone’ but that they must go after Mr. White because of ”who he is.”
White closes with this:
Next, I intend to send information delving into the mystery of Win Moses “home” in Fort Wayne (potential homestead fraud and voter fraud) while he resides in Indianapolis. I am not mentioning Dowd here since he has no connection to Allen County but if you wish to ask him questions concerning his potential violation of statutes protecting voters and candidates from influence I welcome that.

All I want is for me and Mr. Sigler, Sr., Sherie Hamshire and Nancy M. Sigler and DJ Sigler, Jr. to be treated the same under the law as me and my family.
A few thoughts:

First, the idea that "everyone" votes in the wrong precinct is ridiculous on its face.  I don't.  I imagine most people don't.  This problem seems to be mostly centered to politicians and those with multiple houses, though my experience has been that there has been a higher occurrence of it among city employees of East Chicago than among the population as a whole.

Second is the concept of prosecutorial discretion.  Prosecutors cannot try every statutory violation they find.  They just can't.  There aren't enough of them.  White's logic here -- that if you don't prosecute every statutory violation then you must prosecute none of them -- is a ludicrous proposition that is prescription for anarchy.  In exercising their discretion, prosecutors often go for the "no harm, no foul" rule.  Someone intentionally voting in the wrong precinct so he can keep his elected town council seat is most definitely "harm." As I learned, you can't justify bad behavior with other bad behavior.

Third, in Indiana the Secretary of State has certain authority over the conduct of elections, including some enforcement of Indiana election laws.  Having someone who intentionally voted fraudulently in charge of elections makes a mockery of both the office and its solemn election responsibilities.  The idea of having a vote cheat as Secretary of State is as ludicrous as having a tax cheat as Treasury Secretary ...

OK, bad example.  But you get the idea.


  1. Actually, outside of the Recount Commission, the SOS's only election function is purely administrative, accepting and maintaining candidate filings. The notion the SOS is the state elections officer is a gross exaggeratino of the duties of the SOS.

    Charlie White may have made his point not the most consisely, but it's a point nonetheless. Evan Bayh voted using an Indianapolis address in May, even though he clearly does not residen in Indianapolis. Richard Lugar's situation is much worse. He's been signing documents under oath to vote for 30 years saying a NW Indy address he sold 30 years ago and hasn't lived at since that time is his "residence." Lugar is Charlie White on steroids. Yet the media has given Lugar a pass because he's a popular pol while CW is not.

    The charges against White are contradictory. One charge says he committed a felony (voter fraud) by living at the condo while voting at his ex-wife's house. Then there is the mortgage fraud charge that says he committed a felony by living at his ex-wife's house instead of the condo. (That charge is utter nonsense as the mortgage docs you sign refer to "intent to occupy" not actual occupation.)

    At the grand jury, the prosecutors refused to allow CW to introduce evidence that he was in fact living at his ex-wife and new husband's house while he was campaiging around the state. If the prosecutors were concerned about the truth, then why not let the grand jury hear that evidence? The reason why is the prosecutor wouldn't have gotten the voter fraud indictment.

    CW's point about selective enforcement of the law is very true. Whether it's a legal defense is an entirely different matter. But it is a defense in the public arena and that's where he's being tried now. Why can't we just wait and let the man have his day in court before we convict him. And seriously, do you think remaining on the Fishers town council was so important to him (when he's running for Secreary of State)that he went out and committed voter fraud?

  2. Paul,

    I don't think anyone is talking about not letting Charlie White have his day in court. But courts have relatively high standards of proof because they are charged with taking away life, liberty and property. By comparison people do not because they are not. And people do have a right to form their own opinions. This is why something may be perfectly legal but may still be generally considered sleazy.

    Either way, in court or in public opinion, White's case as I understabnd it has major, major problems. Consider he following:

    1. It's hard for White to make the case that SoS has only a minor role in elections when in the past he himself has called SoS the state's "chief election officer."

    2. There isn't much in the way of an excuse for someone running for for what he calls the state's "chief election officer" to vote in the wrong precinct. Either he did it knowingly and committed vote fraud or he did it unknowingly and is therefore not qualified to be the state's "chief election officer."

    3. The other cases you mention -- Moses, Lugar and Bayh -- are or were all legislators. It is common practice and, indeed, almost a necessity, for legislators living far outside the legislative center to have two residences, one inside their district and one closer to the legislative center. White doesn't qualify -- you don't need two residences for the Fishers Town Council. Furthermore, legislators typically either own or rent their residences. As I understand it, White had a house with his current wife, but voted out of his ex-wife's house. Doesn't work.

    4. For comparison purposes, this is EXACTLY what a number of East Chicago city employees did in the 2003 East Chicago mayoral primary, enough to throw the election. They were prosecuted. Why should White not be prosecuted when there is evidence he committed the same crime?

    5. It would not be surprising in the least if White had tried to keep his town council seat as a hedge in case he lost the SoS election. Far stranger things happened in that East Chicago election and in many others. it would be consistent with White's original intent to be SoS while remaining as chair of the Hamilton County GOP, the obvious conflict of interest notwithstanding.

    6. White taking shots at Moses, Sigler and others reeks of extortion. He's saying, "Let me keep my office or I'll bring you down." At least when Rod Blagojevich tried that he was taking aim at who he understandably believed were his co-conspirators. White's mess is entirely of his own doing, yet to save himself he is basically threatening anyone who tries to look into his wrongdoing, and in so doing he further tarnishes the reputation of government and the political process. It is a tactic of thugs, not good public servants.

    7. Finally, and this is entirely political, it will be very hard for the GOP to continue to try to crack down on vote fraud if they don't come down hard on White and help force him from office.