The Indiana Attorney General‘s office says it plans to object to a legal move by Democrats to put their 2010 secretary of state candidate in office following Republican Secretary of State Charlie White‘s conviction on voter fraud charges.
The agency says it plans to seek an expedited review from the state Supreme Court. The Indiana Democratic Party Monday asked the state appeals court to order Democrat Vop Osili be declared Secretary of State.
Democratic Party attorney Karen Celestino-Horseman acknowledges the criminal and civil cases are separate, but says the criminal court jury found White guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
“If the election challenge is upheld, and we think that the jury verdicts certainly support Judge [Louis] Rosenberg‘s decision, no matter what happens — irregardless in the criminal side of this — Vop Osili comes in and takes over as secretary of state,” she says.
But the judge stayed that ruling pending appeal. Still, White‘s felony convictions on voter fraud, theft and other charges threaten to force him out and allow Gov. Mitch Daniels to appoint a successor. The Indiana Recount Commission had earlier rejected a challenge to White‘s eligibility to run for office in the first place. If that complaint had been sustained, Osili — as runner-up in the 2010 race — would have been entitled to the seat by state statute.
Daniels has appointed White’s chief deputy Jerry Bonnet as interim Secretary of State because it is still possible White‘s convictions could be reduced to misdemeanors. By law, only felony convictions force a statewide official out of office.
In the wake of the White controversy, the Indiana General Assembly enacted a new law last year giving the governor the right to appoint a successor regardless of what causes the vacancy. But because the White-Osili dispute predates that change, the old law still applies.