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Gary Varvel l Indianapolis Star

White should go


If Charlie White represented a single legislative district, his indictment on charges that include perjury and voter fraud would be troubling. As Indiana secretary of state – the officeholder sworn to uphold the integrity of elections – the charges are too serious to overlook. He should step down – if not permanently, at least until the charges are resolved.

A Hamilton County grand jury last week handed down indictments on seven felony charges, including a Class C fraud charge. The former GOP county chairman is accused of lying about his address when he voted in last year’s GOP primary. He also is accused of fraud on a financial institution related to a home mortgage. Finally, White is accused of theft for allegedly collecting a salary as a Fishers Town Council member after moving out of the district he was elected to represent.

The charges are serious, but particularly for an officeholder whose duties include serving as the state’s chief election officer and as chairman of the Indiana Recount Commission. It was White’s predecessor, Todd Rokita, who voted in the candidate’s favor when the Indiana Democratic Party contested White’s election victory.

Imagine if a similar question were to come up in May – how could voters ever be assured an honest, measured appraisal of any election charge when the official responsible is himself the target of serious election-related charges?

Even Rokita said last week that White “cannot credibly or adequately do his duties while contesting criminal charges.”

This page, in endorsing White’s Democratic opponent last year, questioned White’s excuse that he was too busy running for office to notice that he hadn’t changed his address: “What mistakes will he make as a busy secretary of state overseeing elections?”

Now, we can ask: What mistakes will he make as a secretary of state facing seven felony charges? It’s a risk too great to accept. White should step aside.