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Fairbanks to Miller: Let us release your records

Alaska Dispatch

The Fairbanks North Star Borough has asked U.S. Senate candidate Joe Miller to allow the release of additional information from his personnel file.

In a letter sent Thursday to Miller's attorney, Ward Merdes, borough attorney Jill Dolan also asks that Miller "retract and correct repeated misrepresentations he has made regarding his records," including postings on his campaign website that suggest it's the borough, not Miller, that is blocking release of the records.

Dolan sent the letter on behalf of the borough after being contacted by an attorney for Alaska Dispatch with a request that the borough disclose additional documents related to Miller's departure from his job as a part-time borough attorney.

Miller's employment with the borough has been under scrutiny since earlier this summer when questions surfaced about whether he resigned voluntarily or was forced out.

In late June, Miller issued a prepared statement denying anything untoward.

"There was absolutely no personal scandal," Miller said.

His campaign manager, Paul Bauer, also told reporters: "Joe Miller is happy to sign a release as long as the borough will waive attorney-client privilege so that he can fully describe why he voluntarily left employment. Joe Miller and the campaign will not allow the borough to hide behind the attorney-client privilege when he needs to describe the reason why he voluntarily left."

But the borough says it has always been Miller who won't agree to the release.

"It is still not clear how Mr. Miller believes the attorney client privilege prevents him from signing a release or otherwise disclosing his FNSB records," Dolan wrote in the letter to Merdes.

Dolan said the borough sent Miller a letter on July 15 asking that he provide details on what he thinks is privileged and what he would like to disclose, but that he has never responded. However, she said, Miller continues to assert on his website that the borough never responded to his request that the FSNB waive attorney client privilege.

Although both Miller and the borough eventually released some documents from his personnel file, they have been heavily redacted and it's still unclear exactly why the borough and its part-time attorney parted ways. Neither Miller nor borough attorneys have offered further explanation, although Miller and his campaign staff have said the candidate is not trying to hide anything.

Records that have been released show what Miller has said all along -- that he was not fired. They show Miller resigned over differences of opinion and apparent frustration over being denied a vacation to go elk hunting with his children.

But the larger picture of why Miller's relationship with the borough soured is incomplete and one-sided. Miller has offered his version, saying he can't say more unless the borough fully waives attorney-client privilege. The borough has similarly said it cannot release more information without specific permission from Miller.

Yet the borough's letter to Miller indicates it believes that Miller does not need a waiver to speak openly and that he is allowed, under guiding ethics rules, to talk about things to the extent necessary to defend himself in a controversy.

When the issue of Miller's employment with the Fairbanks North Star Borough came up, Miller accused his opponents of dirty politics. He claimed a local blogger who first publicized the firing rumor was working as a campaign operative for Lisa Murkowski, and he accused members of the borough's "leftist administration" and the Murkowski campaign of teaming up in a plot to sully his name and distract voters from the issues.

"I resigned voluntarily, and there is no truth to any of the rumors being spread by the opposition's whisper campaign against me, that has now been made public," Miller said in a prepared statement on the day he released a portion of his personnel records. "It is time for the slander and lies to stop."

The borough has requested that Miller respond to its most recent letter by Monday, Oct. 11.