Thursday, May 05, 2011

Rokita Investigatory Report On Charlie White Vote Fraud Investigations To Be Released After Clearance By Inspector General

An Inspector General's investigation has cleared Secretary of State Charlie White of any wrongdoing in connection with his review of a report former Secretary of State Todd Rokita prepared in response to allegations White had committed voter fraud, which was later turned over to the special prosecutor charged with investigating alleged criminal wrongdoing by White. The report, which Rokita refused to disclose under Indiana's Access to Public Records Act (APRA) citing an exception for attorney work-product privilege, was deemed by the Inspector General not to be an investigative report statutorily exempt from public access; rather, it was a report Rokita had exercised discretion to deem privileged under APRA. The Secretary of State's office released the following statement:

The Indiana Inspector General has issued a report clearing Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White of any wrongdoing regarding access to a report prepared by his predecessor – Todd Rokita. Prosecutors had alleged Secretary White had wrongfully accessed the report, yet the report indicates nothing improper.

Furthermore, the Inspector General clears the way to release the Rokita report per the request of Secretary White almost two months ago. Rokita had previously made the report inaccessible by public records request. In pushing transparency within the office, White’s administration had promised to release the report pending approval from the Indiana Attorney General, the Indiana Public Access Counselor and the Indiana Inspector General. With the Inspector General being the last to sign off as of this morning, the report is being prepared for public access.

You can view the Inspector General's report here. Jerry Bonnet, General Counsel to Secretary of State Charlie White, has sent a letter to the Inspector General requesting permission to release the report to the public, which you can access here. It's always been my view that Rokita did a great disservice to the public by refusing to release the report, which he was under no statutory obligation to create in the first instance. Presumably, the report will have to be produced during discovery for the ongoing election contest petition the Indiana Democratic Party has filed against White, with which Marion Co. Circuit Court Judge Louis Rosenberg recently ordered the Recount Commission to proceed. The document would have to be made public anyway.

UPDATE: The investigative report is now available here. More later.

UPDATE II: The report makes clear that violation of the law in this case boils down to "intent". The report looks only at the documentary evidence. No interviews were conducted with White or others to ascertain his intent for purposes of maintaining a residence for voting purposes. If the Evan Bayh standard is applicable, he likely committed no violation of the elections law; however, the Evan Bayh standard proabably doesn't apply to others like White so he could have problems depending on how convincing he sounds under oath.


Paul K. Ogden said...

Everyone just assumes as true that White could not have been residing at his ex-wife and her new husband's house and therefore was committing voter fraud. But I believe CW, the ex-wife and her husband were all prepared to tell the grand jury exactly that and they were never called as witnesses by the prosecution.

Having now read the report, I haven't the foggest why that was ever classified as investigatory material and not subject to the open records law. What kind of ruling was that from the PAC?. All Rokita did was look at public documents and apply the law. There was no investigation.

Gary R. Welsh said...

I agree, Paul. The most important issue, though, is that Rokita had no legal duty to investigate the allegations. And like you point out, he did no more investigating and applying the law than what had already been discussed on the blogs.