No matter how occupied my life becomes, there are times I am so troubled, I feel compelled to stay up into the wee hours of the night to speak.
This is such a time.
I learned today that Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita (political science major, Wabash College, Class of 1992) completed his investigation into possible vote fraud by GOP Secretary of State candidate Charlie White (political science major, Wabash College, Class of 1992), but he refuses to make his findings public.
As has been well-chronicled by Brian Howey here and by the Associated Press here, Charlie kept taking money as a Fishers Town Council member, though he certainly knew he no longer lived in the district he represented. (He was five miles over the line).
In addition, White voted in a precinct in which he knew, or certainly should have known, he was not eligible to vote.
All of this has culminated in the appointment of two special prosecutors - one Democrat and one Republican. Of course, there will be no way the duo completes their work before election day.
Cue Rokita to center stage.
Given that Rokita's reputation was built on his alleged fervor for upholding the integrity of Indiana's voting laws, when Indiana Democratic Party Chairman Dan Parker asked for an investigation, Rokita had to oblige.
I was skeptical. After all, in addition to running in the same political circles, according to Charlie White's most recent campaign finance report, Rokita’s campaign committee paid $717 for refreshments for a July 15, 2010 fundraiser for Charlie. (Curiously, Rokita's report covering all activity from July 1, 2010 through September 30, 2010, shows no such donation).
However, I (political science major, Wabash College, class of 1992) have known Rokita for a long time, and I thought maybe, just maybe, he would employ some integrity, make a recommendation to the prosecutors, and support it with what he uncovered.
He did neither.
And here is a sad reality. I was lab partners with Charlie White and lived in the same dorm he did at Wabash, and there were times I found him to be a really good guy. But if I put aside my personal relationship, I can honestly say that nobody who did what Charlie did would ever get my vote for this office. And if Charlie wins, it will be only because his opponent's name is Vop Osili.
The hardest thing to do in politics is look at people you are either fond of or friends with and tell them they have acted improperly and will have to suffer the consequences. It takes grit. It takes character. It takes cajones of steel (or diamond ovaries, for the ladies) because when the stakes are high, your own party will employ political pressure that feels like vice grips and ice picks.
Rokita's mettle got tested, and he folded like aluminum foil. His office released a statement today saying it had reviewed only public records, subpoenaed no witnesses or records (as Rokita has no authority to do so), took no witness statements, and yet somehow spent 100 hours on this venture. The obvious question is, "How?!?"
In addition, Rokita made no recommendation (though he could have), noting there were already two prosecutors on the case. Playing the political situation with the deftness of Yo Yo Ma on a cello, Rokita stated, ”No one should conclude by the mere activity of this review and report that an offense was committed or not committed.”
If only Rokita had heeded the wisdom of Mr. Miyagi.
Instead Rokita said nothing and released nothing, thereby proving this charade was undertaken only to preserve his image as a 4th District Congressional candidate.
I doubt Rokita could speak. Because if he had said what he really thought, if he had spoken bluntly about what those documents told him, he would have created a statewide headline that would have virtually undone White's candidacy.
By shutting up and shutting down the media, Rokita almost certainly ensures that White will get to the tape, gasping and coughing, just edging Osili, and that's all that matters. Because if that gavel of justice bangs down on Charlie White a month after his election, and he is bounced from his office by virtue of a felony conviction, you know who appoints the guy or gal who will complete the remainder of the term? Governor Mitch Daniels (under Indiana Code § 3-13-4-3).
I've disliked Republican policy positions on many days, but I doubt I've been as personally disappointed in a Republican as I am on this one.
You're better than this, Teddy.