Indicted former registrar, struggling to raise funds for a lawyer, appears in Prince William County court

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Former Prince William County Registrar Michele White is struggling to raise funds to defend against corruption charges she says are motivated by politics.

White, 51, of Occoquan, appeared in Prince William County Circuit Court on Friday for a hearing on the status of her legal counsel.

The former registrar was indicted by a grand jury in September on three charges: corrupt conduct as an election official, willful neglect of duty as an election official between Aug. 1 and Dec. 31, 2020, and making a false statement by an election official between Nov. 3 and Nov. 10, 2020.

Attorney General Jason Miyares’ office has said the case is not politically motivated but has declined to release any specifics about the allegations. The grand jury indictments only list the crimes with which White is charged and do not provide additional information on the case.

Assistant Attorney General James Herring declined to comment on the case after Friday’s hearing.

White appeared without an attorney Friday and said she believes she can raise the necessary money in four weeks.

“The cost of retaining an attorney is extraordinary,” she said.

White is seeking $40,000 for her defense through GoFundMe but had raised just $1,890 as of Friday afternoon.

Judge Carroll Weimer Jr. said continued delays complicate the Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial since White hasn’t filed a motion to waive that right.

Weimer decided to go ahead and set a trial date in April, which could change when White hires an attorney.

“We’ll deal with whatever we have to deal with when you hire a lawyer,” he said.

In her two court appearances, White has declined to comment to local reporters. She has provided interviews to The Washington Post and Culpeper Star-Exponent and commented on the charges through the GoFundMe page.

White told The Post that she has not been told the exact nature of the allegations, but she did nothing “wrong or illegal” in the 2020 election. The state has not filed any documents in the case that hint at their allegations as of Friday.

White told The Post that her prosecution is tied to nationwide efforts by Republicans to cast doubt on elections.

The county Registrar’s Office has said White’s conduct did not impact the outcome of any election but has not commented on any specific allegations.

White was registrar from February 2015 until her resignation in April 2021. Current Registrar Eric Olsen assumed the role Nov. 8, 2021, but has announced his resignation after the upcoming election following disputes with local Republicans.

Olsen has said that he noticed the discrepancies and reported them.

White told The Post that Gov. Glenn Youngkin saw her unexplained resignation in April 2021 as an opportunity to justify an Election Integrity Unit.

 “It’s just a good show,” she told The Post.

Miyares announced the unit two days after White’s charges. The unit is dedicated to investigating allegations of voter fraud or irregularities.

Weimer set a status hearing for 9 a.m. Nov. 18, a pre-trial conference for 1 p.m. March 22 and a jury trial from April 3 to April 6.

White is free on a personal recognizance bond, meaning she was released from custody with a promise to appear at all court proceedings. She faces between three and 21 years cumulatively on the charges plus up to a $7,500 fine.

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