Republican Senate nominee Joe Miller said Monday he wouldn't answer any more questions about his background or personal matters, accusing some in the media of impropriety, and arguing that such questions are a distraction from the real issues facing Alaska.
He's off the mark on three points.
• The question of Miller's performance while he was a part-time attorney for the Fairbanks North Star Borough is not an intrusion into his personal or family life. These are questions about his performance as a public servant on the taxpayers' dime. Voters have a right to know about that performance, just as they have the right to know about Lisa Murkowski's record as a legislator and Scott McAdams' record as a school board member and mayor of Sitka.
Those are legitimate questions for the public realm. These candidates are asking to represent Alaskans in the United States Senate. They can't expect to cherry pick what parts of their public records they'll discuss.
• If media members have violated some law, or mistreated Miller, show us the evidence. So far what media members have done is sought borough records and sued for those the borough has withheld for whatever reason. That's what media institutions do, provide as much information as possible.
• As for distractions, questions about any candidate's performance in public service is not a distraction but part of the record by which voters judge a candidate's merit. And it's not as if Alaskans are ignoring the issues that Miller has raised. On the same day he said he wouldn't answer any more questions about his background, he and his opponents answered a series of questions at the chamber debate about health care, federal debt, foreign policy, war and resource development.
Joe Miller is free not to answer any questions. But the media and Alaskans are free to keep asking them -- and digging for answers.
BOTTOM LINE: Questions about past performance in public service are fair game for candidates.