Next On The Tea Party Disgrace Parade: Joe Miller

Does anyone know what ethics is in Alaska?

Apparently nobody who runs for office up there. Fresh off of defeating GOP Senator Lisa Murchowski (who became senator in a blatant act of nepotism by her father)  in the primary for this years U.S. Senate race, thanks to the endorsement of former Alaska governor Sarah Palin (who abandoned her post to cash in on her media fame), Joe Miller announced to the press that he will no longer answer reporters’ questions about his background and personal life.”We’ve drawn a line in the sand,” he said. “You can ask me about background, you can ask me about personal issues, I’m not going to answer them. I’m not. This is about the issues. … This is about moving this state forward, and that’s our commitment.”

Ethics alarm! Whenever a candidate says that “personal issues” are off the table, and that the election is about “moving the state forward,” you can bet the candidate has a bloody skeleton or six in his or her closet that will tell the voters something important about whether the candidate can be trusted. Sorry, Mr. Miller, but we don’t elect abstractions and position papers to lead us; we elect people, and the press has an obligation to let us know who a candidate is, what are his values, and how he has conducted himself in the past. It is per se unethical for a candidate to refuse to answer questions about his background and personal conduct. I believe it should disqualify a candidate for office. What are you hiding and why are you hiding it? If it doesn’t show you can’t be trusted, then reveal it and explain it: the voters are fair; if anything, they are too forgiving. Why should they trust you if you won’t trust them?

Well, no surprise: now we know what kind of skeleton this is. Jim Whitaker, former mayor of the Fairbanks North Star Borough, came forward to reveal that Miller, a part-time attorney for the borough from June 2002 to September 2009, used borough computers in 2008 in a failed attempt to use proxy votes to get himself elected as the chairman of the Alaska Republican Party.

Whitaker,the mayor of the Fairbanks North Star Borough from 2003 to 2009, explained that Miller’s refusal to answer questions prompted his statement, saying, “That event (illicitly using official computers on borough time) happened on my watch, and I am obligated to tell the truth.”

Indeed, at the time of his breach of office policy and ethics, Miller was vocal about his support for ousting state party chairman Randy Ruedrich. “We’re doing this so we can tell the public, ‘Look, we’re behind the public and its motivation to clean up government,’ Miller said at the state Republican convention. “That’s what this is all about, and to make sure the public understands that the Republican Party is a party of ethics and not corruption.” Then he used borough computers and borough time to try to take over the newly “ethical” party. Ironically, this behavior was similar to what prompted Miller to attack Ruedrich, who used state computers and e-mail to conduct Republican party business while working for the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. Someone blew the whistle on Ruedrich’s activities, and he ended up paying a $12,000 state ethics fine.

Who was that someone? Why, Sarah Palin, of course!

Whitaker said the computer use was a “significant breach” of borough policy over which Miller likely would have been fired had it not been for his crucial role in a borough case involving the value of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline. Miller was reprimanded and was supposed to receive leave without pay. He finally left later over another dispute in which his professional ethics seem to have been lacking. Miller was asked to cancel a hunting trip because he was desperately needed in an office that was suddenly short-staffed. One attorney was out for a pregnancy, another after a heart attack, and Miller was told that the office couldn’t afford to have anyone else missing, according to Whittaker. Too bad, said Miller, and went a-hunting anyway.

That’s dedication for you!

Hmmm. So this little corner of Joe Miller’s professional life shows a lack of integrity, a misappropriation of resources, dishonesty, and a failure of diligence and loyalty. Explain to me again, Joe, why this is irrelevant to the election?

To be fair, not that all of Miller’s critics have a handle on what is ethical and what isn’t, even outside of the Alaska ethics wilderness. Progressive bloggers are taking Miller to task for what they call “hypocrisy.” This representative attack on Miller is from a habitually unfair and slanted website called Chattahbox:

“He has railed against Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, the federal minimum wage  and unemployment benefits as unconstitutional. But come to find out, Miller’s family was the recipient of Medicaid, his wife collected unemployment insurance and he benefited from federal farm subsidies.”

There is nothing wrong or hypocritical about a citizen taking full advantage of laws and government programs he disagrees with and would end if he had the power. Nothing. My late father proposed that the government eliminate or greatly reduce Social Security payments to people like him, who got a separate government pension from the military. That didn’t obligate him to send back Social Security checks that he had a right to under current law. I think the minimum wage reduces jobs and distorts the market, but I’m not going to tell my son that he should give some of the money back if he goes to work at a fast food joint, nor should I. I think extending unemployment benefits is a terrible policy that encourages people to stay out of work, but if I am out of a job, I am not ethically obligated to refuse the checks if the government is foolish and irresponsible enough to send them. The ethically-ignorant Chattahbox argument, which we hear a lot, assumes that you are ethically obligated to support any program that provided you with a benefit, even if you think the policy is bad for the country in the long term. In fact, opposing a program that has or may benefit you shows integrity and the ability to overcome a conflict of interest. It is not hypocrisy, and Joe Miller is not hypocritical to do it.

He’s just untrustworthy and unethical in other ways.


7 thoughts on “Next On The Tea Party Disgrace Parade: Joe Miller

  1. Expanding on the understaffed office thing, it certainly seems silly not to delay a hunting trip (since that could be pretty much any time in the summer or whatever season). But what if it was to attend:

    1. A unique, but annual event (Birthday with Grandma, Comic-Con)?

    2. A one-time event, but one being recorded for posterity (Kardashians V. Lohans on a special Family Feud hosted by Dr. Phil)?

    3. A once-in-a-lifetime event that wouldn’t be recorded (REO Speedwagon, Rush and Blind Guardian on stage together for one time only)?

    Is it fair to assume these would be slightly more reasonable, if possibly still unfair and unethical?

  2. You do know that many hunting seasons are short (sometimes only a few weeks) and some require you to enter a lottery months in advance where only a small percentage of the applicants get a permit for the year?

    I would have to know what kind of hunting he was doing and what the regulations are before I classified the hunting trip as trivial or more important than a playoff game. Squirrel hunting and mountain lion hunting are not the same thing.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.