After Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White was found guilty of six felony charges Feb. 4, Gov. Mitch Daniels appointed Jerry Bonnet as interim secretary of state. A convicted felon cannot hold statewide office in Indiana.
White faced seven charges in Hamilton County including voter fraud. He was accused of lying about his address on voter registration forms and not living in the home he listed for voting purposes. The jury found him guilty of six of the seven charges, including false registration, voting in another precinct, and theft. The jury acquitted him of fraud on a financial institution.
The governor issued a statement early Feb. 4 that he was holding off making a permanent appointment because the trial judge could decide to reduce White’s felonies to misdemeanors, which may allow White to stay in office. Bonnet, a secretary of state employee since 2005, will serve as secretary of state until the governor selects someone else to carry out the remainder of White’s term or until White is reinstated.
In addition to the criminal trial, Democrats called for an investigation into White’s actions before he won the 2010 general election. Last year, the Indiana Recount Commission voted to let White keep his job, but the state Democratic Party appealed and Marion Circuit Judge Lou Rosenberg ruled White, a Republican, ineligible to be a candidate for secretary of state in the November 2010 election. The Indiana attorney general has asked the Supreme Court to rule on the matter.
White, an attorney, practiced family law and served as a judge pro-tem before being elected secretary of state.