Saturday, October 18, 2008

Yes, the Indiana Attorney General certainly does have the legal authority to investigate voter registration fraud

In today's Indianapolis Star's article on voter fraud, Tim Evans notes that Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita had asked Indiana Attorney General Steve Carter to investigate voter registration fraud in Lake County. To Rokita's request, the Star reported:

"In a written reply Wednesday, Deputy Attorney General Richard Bramer said the authority for such investigations lies not with the attorney general but instead falls to county and federal prosecutors."
Hogwash. IC 4-6-1-6 clearly gives the Indiana Attorney General the authority to investigate matters involving criminal law and work with county prosecutors in any prosecution they decide to pursue.

Further, IC 4-6-2-1 gives the Indiana Attorney General the authority bring civil actions on behalf of the State. The Indiana Attorney General could easily file an injunction lawsuit against Acorn's voter registration activities that violate Indiana election law.

Bramer's reply highlights my frustration with the lack of aggressiveness in the Indiana Attorney General's Office on a wide assortment of issues. It is as if the Attorney General's Office is always looking for a reason why the AG can't take action rather than a reason why the AG can take action.

I am reminded of the letter President Lincoln wrote to Union General McClellan when he was frustrated by the General not taking on the enemy despite the fact the Union Army had overwhelming numbers:

"My Dear General McClellan:

If you are not using the army, I should like to borrow it for a short while.

Yours respectfully,
Abraham Lincoln"

You can substitute accordingly to paraphrase Lincoln's comments.


Chris Worden said...

To give such an opinion, Attorney General Carter would have certainly relied on the head of his "Advisory" section, a/k/a Greg Zoeller. I hope you remember that Zoeller didn't know basic statutory law when you go to vote, and his restrictive interpretation of the powers of the AG's office is why Carter has done little.

Paul K. Ogden said...


You could well be right and that very much concerns me. I know in my area of real estate regulation, the AG Office's Homeowners' Protection Unit would not enforce RESPA because they didn't know if they had the legal authority to do so. It says right there in RESPA that the state attorneys general can enforce RESPA. When I was head of the Title Insurnace Divsion, I pointed that out without success.

The Indiana General Assembly was likewise frustrated and passed a law requiring the AG to report on the enforcement of RESPA by its Homeowner's Protection Unit. Still the AG's office took the position that they did not believe the AG had the legal authority to enforce RESPA. It was so frustrating.

I believe Greg Zoeller is a good, well-meaning person and this Republican would love to support him as the Republican's choice for AG. However, it greatly concerns me that he may be a reason behind the scenes why Steve Carter's office has been inactive on so many fronts. We don't need an AG who is always looking for reasons not to take action, but rather we need an AG who will look for reasons why the AG can take action. When Zoeller promises to continue the direction of the current office, that greatly concerns me. I want to hear about Greg Zoeller is going to do different from Steve Carter.

Anonymous said...

I was just curious did anyone ever find out why Steve Carter choose not to run again?

Paul K. Ogden said...

Anon, I don't know. I know behind the scenes a lot of Republican elected officials weren't happy with Carter's refusal to act in a wide assortment of areas and wanted him to leave.

I'm too busy crying this morning after reading Zoeller's comments regarding the authority of the Attorney General's Office. But now, I see where Zoeller promises to continue with that same philosophy of not taking based on same extremely limited interpretation of the AG's powers.