Alaska Dispatch's pursuit for Miller's personnel records
-- Oct. 11: Alaska Dispatch complaint
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.
Last week, citing information available from a partial release of records this summer and information obtained by Alaska Dispatch, attorney John McKay sent a letter to the borough on behalf of Alaska Dispatch urging the release of more documents.
The borough initially responded to McKay's letter by sending a letter of its own to Miller requesting his authorization to release the records and warning him that failure to act would likely result in a court battle. The borough's letter gave Miller until Monday morning to respond. Alaska Dispatch is focused on two main issues: the circumstances leading up to Miller's departure from the borough, and events that took place in March 2008 coinciding with the state's GOP convention and the addition of a number of documents to Miller's file.
"From what the Borough has already provided, together with the Dispatch's reporting, the most logical conclusion is that something occurred involving alleged misuse of borough time, equipment or other public resources," McKay said in his letter sent prior to the suit, adding that if the documents the borough is keeping secret do in fact relate to the party activity, "the public's overriding interest in disclosure should be obvious."
An attorney for the Fairbanks North Star Borough has also requested that the Senate candidate "retract and correct repeated misrepresentations he has made," including suggestions that the borough is blocking release of his personnel records.
A former borough employee alleges Joe Miller got in trouble for using Fairbanks North Star Borough resources as part of a 2008 effort to ouster Alaska GOP chairman Randy Ruedrich -- the same kind of political behavior that cost Ruedrich his state job years earlier when Sarah Palin blew the whistle.
Contact Jill Burke at jill(at)alaskadispatch.com.