NOBLESVILLE, Ind. — Indiana's top elections official committed voter fraud to preserve his political clout and protect his finances, a special prosecutor said Tuesday during opening arguments of a trial that will determine if Secretary of State Charlie White keeps his office — and his freedom.
"This case is about deceit and cheating," special prosecutor Dan Sigler Sr. told jurors at the Hamilton County Courthouse in the Noblesville, about 20 miles north of Indianapolis. "Somebody tried to get away with something ... somebody got caught."
White faces seven felony counts that also include perjury and theft. Prosecutors claim White used his ex-wife's address on his voter registration form in the May 2010 Republican primary when he actually had a condo elsewhere with his fiancÉe. They also allege he collected his Fishers Town Council salary after moving out of that district.
Sigler portrayed White as a man "obsessed with politics, with success in politics."
White, 42, has said the charges ignore a complicated personal life in which he was trying to raise his 10-year-old son, plan his second marriage and campaign for statewide office. He says he stayed at his ex-wife's house when he wasn't on the road campaigning for secretary of state and did not live in the condo he purchased until he and his then-fiancÉe were married.
White's attorney, Carl Brizzi, said the evidence did not support the allegations.
"Their entire case is based on supposition and innuendo," he told jurors. "You're not going to be convinced of anything beyond a reasonable doubt except that they want to get him."
White has resisted calls to resign from Democrats and Republicans, including Gov. Mitch Daniels.
A conviction on even one of the seven felony counts would force White from office. But confusion reigns over who would replace him.
A Marion County judge already has ruled that White should be ousted and replaced by Vop Osili, the Democrat he defeated in the November 2010 election by about 300,000 votes. But under state law, if White is convicted of even one of the seven felony counts against him, Daniels would appoint his successor.