Miller campaign says low-income licenses were legal

Sean Cockerham | Tribune Media Services

An earlier version of this story was published as an item on our Alaska Politics blog on Monday night. The story below is what appeared in the Wednesday print newspaper.


After he first came to Alaska, purchased a home in South Anchorage and started work as an attorney for a prominent local firm, U.S. Senate candidate Joe Miller and his wife obtained resident low-income hunting and fishing licenses that require a family annual income of less than $8,200.

Miller campaign spokesman Randy Desoto said the family met the guidelines for the 1995 licenses. He said Miller had been a full-time law student at Yale on a merit scholarship the previous years and his wife was taking care of their children, with family expenses paid through loans.

The Alaska resident low-income sportfishing, hunting and trapping licenses require a person to have their permanent home in Alaska for the previous 12 months. The person must also either be on welfare or have an annual family gross income of less than $8,200 for the year before applying for the license.

The cost of the low-income license was $5. Residents who didn't meet the income guidelines paid $55; non-residents paid $300.

Miller came to Alaska in July 1994, while still in law school, and worked as a clerk and intern. He purchased the South Anchorage home that September (it was assessed at $88,700 at the time and currently has an assessed value of about $400,000). DeSoto said Miller's wife and children stayed behind at the Anchorage home when he left that winter to return to Yale, going back and forth to Alaska during the 1994-95 academic year

DeSoto said the home was purchased with the sale of some of the farmland Miller owned in Kansas, where he's originally from.

Miller graduated from Yale in May 1995 and then started work that June for Condon Partnow & Sharrock in Anchorage, according to an application Miller later filled out for a job as an assistant borough attorney in Fairbanks. Miller listed the estimated salary as $70,000 a year.

On July 31, 1995, Miller obtained the low-income hunting and fishing license that requires a gross annual family income of less than $8,200 for the year preceding the application. His wife, Kathleen, received her license on Aug. 4. (Those getting the licenses only must show proof of eligibility when specifically asked by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.) Miller and his wife were issued the licenses by Walmart, one of the state's vendors in Anchorage.

Democratic Senate candidate Scott McAdams said Miller, a Republican, was "gaming the system" and that speaks to how trustworthy he is.

Desoto said Miller followed the rules. "Joe told me that he did not cross the income threshold," he said. When asked by the Daily News on Monday and Tuesday whether Miller and his family received other government benefits for low-income residents, Desoto said he would check. Tuesday evening, he said he didn't have an answer yet.

In subsequent years, starting in 1995, Miller purchased a regular hunting and fishing license.

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