Friday, October 22, 2010

Rokita Does A Disservice By Refusing To Release White Report

Secretary of State Todd Rokita's office has completed an investigation of allegations Republican Secretary of State candidate Charlie White committed voter fraud by using an address where he did not actually live in order to hold a seat on the Fishers town council. Rokita told reporters today his office spent more than 100 hours preparing a 265-page report his office has now forwarded to the special prosecutors investigating the allegations. Rokita made no recommendations to the special prosecutors in the report. Rokita does not have authority to prosecute voter fraud cases, was not acting as a law enforcement agency in gathering evidence concerning the allegations and collected the information contained in the report without the power of subpoena. Yet he tells reporters today he does not intend to make the report public. The public will not know the outcome of the investigation being conducted by the special prosecutors until after the election. The news media should go to court and attempt to force Rokita to release the report. Indiana's access to public records law exempts "investigatory records of law enforcement agencies" from disclosure; however, it doesn't appear to me the Secretary of State was acting in the capacity of a law enforcement agency to claim his findings are exempt from the law. Even if he was, the public access law exempts basic information police gather in making arrests and reduce to arrest record reports. Anybody else have their thoughts on whether Rokita's report is covered by the investigatory records exemption?

9 comments:

Paul K. Ogden said...

The Secretary of State is not a law enforcement agency. The report has to be turned over.

I've said all along, Rokita didn't have any jurisdiction to look into that particular matter. I've actually praised Rokita for being willing to take on issues relating to voting, which I believe is certainly his job as the state's chief election officer. But investigating a particular incident of voter fraud, not that's not the job of the SOS. But now that he's done the investigation...

My guess is he got too far out on the limb to go back.

Advance Indiana said...

Paul, He seemed to be grandstanding by telling everyone he was investigating it but now he's refusing to say what he learned knowing that the findings won't be learned until after the election is over. It's called having your cake and eating it too.

Doug said...

Reminds me of Nixon's "secret plan" to get out of Vietnam.

Anyway, for what it's worth, IC 5-14-3-2(h): Investigatory record" means information compiled in the course of the investigation of a crime."

IC 5-14-3-4 excepts from public disclosure, at the discretion of the agency, investigatory records of law enforcement agencies.

The closest the public records law comes to defining "law enforcement agency" is in the context of saying that law enforcement agencies are "public agencies" for purposes of IC 5-14-3-2(m):

"Any law enforcement agency, which means an agency or a department of any level of government that engages in the investigation, apprehension, arrest, or prosecution of alleged criminal offenders, such as the state police department, the police or sheriff's department of a political subdivision, prosecuting attorneys, members of the excise police division of the alcohol and tobacco commission, conservation officers of the department of natural resources, gaming agents of the Indiana gaming commission, gaming control officers of the Indiana gaming commission, and the security division of the state lottery commission."

Unfortunately, I think that probably gives him enough weasel room to tie this thing up well past the election.

Advance Indiana said...

Doug, Did you notice that long list of agencies does not include the securities division of the Secretary of State's office, which would seem a more likely candidate to be considered a law enforcement agency?

Cato said...

Nope, it's not covered. Rokita is only a law enforcement with respect to the securities division.

Doug said...

I noticed, but I think there is a plausible argument that the list is non-exhaustive. Don't get me wrong, I think Rokita made a bullshit (if predictable) move here, but I don't think the public records law is so clear that you'd get a judge to move on it before the election.

Vox Populi said...

The obvious answer is that the report is not favorable to White, but at the same time Rokita wants Republicans to retain the SoS office and when White wins and is forced to resign, the Republicans pick his replacement.

Politics 101.

Bob said...

Vox,

If the strong Republican tide carries Charlie White to win the SoS, what makes you think Charlie White will so easily relinquish the right to the office?

Like a pot head will protect his grow, an alcoholic their bottle or Golum with his "Precious" ring, it seems to me that a politically motivated person, like Charlie White, covet his power to the exclusion of all other longer term considerations.

Like

interestedparty said...

So, he wants to wield the power, use the resources, and enjoy the celebrity of an elected office he appears to be ineligible for. He forgets about the no respect part and the asterisk beside his name in all the record and history books.

At the very least, and it's much more than the very least, he seems to have no sense of irony