In what may be the first solid signs of a U.S. Senatorial campaign about to go off the rails, Tea Bag Express star, Sarah Palin favorite, and GOP primary nominee Joe Miller, went through a bizarre set of moves in Anchorage early Monday. Miller scheduled an 11:00 a.m. press conference. Then he cancelled it. Then he participated in an 11:45 a.m. senatorial campaign forum, held by the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce. Then, he did this:
Update, 1:55 p.m.: Republican nominee Joe Miller just told reporters that he will not be answering any more questions about his personal background for the remainder of the campaign.
He made the statement at an impromptu news conference after today’s debate at the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce. He took no questions and immediately walked out of the room.
Early Monday morning, the Alaska Dispatch announced it has filed suit against the Fairbanks-North Star Borough, to gain access to Miller’s complete personnel file for the period when he worked as an attorney for the borough:
Alaska Dispatch sued the Fairbanks North Star Borough on Monday for the release of U.S. Senate candidate Joe Miller’s employment records. The suit comes after accusations that Miller was politicking on borough time.
Miller worked as a part-time attorney for the borough for seven years until his resignation in fall 2009. In the months since announcing his candidacy for the U.S. Senate, questions have been raised about whether Miller resigned to avoid being fired, and more recently, about whether he once used borough computers for his own political activities.
A source who spoke on condition of anonymity told Alaska Dispatch that Miller was caught using borough equipment in an attempt to unseat Alaska GOP party chair Randy Ruedrich. The Miller campaign has neither denied nor confirmed the claim. A press conference was reportedly set for 11 a.m. Monday to address Miller’s past employment with the borough; however, a spokesman for Miller said the campaign had decided not to hold a conference before Monday’s noon Anchorage Chamber of Commerce candidates’ forum but might speak with reporters afterward.
The activity Miller is accused of is similar to what got Ruedrich in trouble in 2003 when it was brought to light that he was using state computers and e-mail to conduct Republican party business while working for the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. His then-co-worker Sarah Palin blew the whistle on Ruedrich’s activities, and he ended up paying a $12,000 state ethics fine. Palin is a strong Miller supporter, as is the Tea Party Express.
There is a lot of speculation about other reasons Miller might be uncomfortable with materials in his personnel jacket. As reported this morning by The Immoral Minority:
Well I certainly hope "other issues will be covered as well" because the voters of this state have a lot of questions.
"Why did you only serve three years of active duty after leaving West Point when the requirement is five years of service?"
"You told Phil Munger that you were a seriously disabled veteran. What is the nature of your disability and do you collect disability compensation from the military?"
"You have advocated cutting federal spending which includes having Alaska refuse federal dollars. Since one third of our economy is based on those federal dollars how would you replace them? And are you considering reinstituting state income taxes, which we currently do not pay, to cover that loss?"
"And finally how do you get your beard length to say halfway between pre-adolescent teenage boy and a real Alaskan man’s facial hair? Do you suffer from a hormonal imbalance perhaps? Or is THAT the ‘serious disability’ that you told Phil about?"
Snark aside, and teasing aside, Miller’s refusal to even answer questions on why he won’t be answering questions is very reminiscent of gubernatorial candidate John Lindauer’s last appearance in front of the Alaska press in September 1998, just as his campaign began to quickly unravel.
This morning, the Tea Party Express announced it is holding off on starting its big ad campaign up here on Miller’s behalf. There may or may not be significance in that announcement.
Murkowski’s most recent report shows she’s holding about $1.2 million in her campaign chest at this point.
There will be more stories on this throughout Monday – and beyond. I’ll post updates in the comments section. I’ve got a busy day and evening, helping deal with aspects of two coal mining projects, one in the Mat-Su Valley, the other across Cook Inlet from Anchorage.
Meanwhile, feel free to learn more about Scott McAdams, the Democratic Party candidate in this race:
I posted this diary by my friend Mel Green this morning, on Scott’s speech Saturday at an LBGTQ conference.
Here’s Scott’s web page.