Joe Miller Won’t Answer ‘Personal’ Questions About Professional Conduct

The Alaska Republican says he won't answer questions about alleged misconduct as a public official, deeming it "personal."

Joe Miller, the Republican nominee for the Alaska Senate seat held by Lisa Murksowsi, says he won’t answer any more personal questions until after the election.   Sean Cockerham and Richard Mauer for the Anchorage Daily News:

“We’ve drawn a line in the sand. You can ask me about background, you can ask me about personal issues — I’m not going to answer,” Miller said.

Miller made the statement to reporters following Monday’s Anchorage Chamber of Commerce candidate forum at the Dena’ina Center. Standing with his wife, Kathleen, Miller delivered a seven-minute address in which he complained he had been mistreated by the Alaska news media and announced he would no longer be answering personal questions. He took no questions, then quickly left down a nearby stairwell.

Miller said he has been the victim of “journalistic impropriety.”

Were reporters asking him whether he’d sexted with Brett Favre?   Making insinuations about his family?

The statement followed the Alaska Dispatch quoting an anonymous source Sunday night saying that Miller used borough equipment in the unsuccessful 2008 attempt to oust state Republican Party Chairman Randy Ruedrich. Several Alaska news organizations, including the Daily News, have been asking for borough records about Miller’s employment since summer, including information related to any disciplinary action Miller faced while employed there. The Dispatch and the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner filed a lawsuit Monday seeking their release.

In March 2008, Miller was the Interior regional chair of the Republican Party and, along with then-Gov. Sarah Palin, attempted to have Ruedrich replaced as party chair at the annual GOP convention. The Fairbanks borough this summer released a heavily redacted set of documents. But other files were denied, including statements made by other employees regarding Miller and “web activity” reports from the day before the state Republican Party convention where Miller tried to oust Ruedrich.

Oh.   Certainly, these would seem to be questions about his public background rather than personal issues.    They seem highly relevant to his fitness to serve in the United States Senate.    And, certainly, it’s more useful to ask these questions now than after he’s been elected to a six-year term.

Miller asserted Monday that “members of the media have gained access to my confidential file, my personnel file from the Fairbanks North Star Borough. It is clear violation of law, the access to that file.”

Miller did not offer evidence for his assertion that the media had gained access to his personnel file, or cite the law that had been broken. “We are calling upon all responsible members of the media to focus on the issues, the legitimate issues and not repeat basically the lies and innuendos, not repeat the clear violations of law, but to focus on the issues at hand. Now I’ll admit, and I’ve said this before, I’m a man of flaws, there’s no question about it. You know, I wasn’t born with a silver spoon, I haven’t been born wealthy,” he said.

If, in fact, journalists have looked into a “confidential file” illegally, that’s a problem.   But the information would seem to be in the public domain at this point.    And, frankly, it’s not at all clear why this sort of information should be withheld from the public.   Miller was, after all, a public employee.

There seems to be a feeling among politicians in Alaska that they’re entitled to run for office without having to be accountable to the public or answer questions from the press.    And it seems to be perfectly acceptable to Alaskans that they adopt this attitude.  But it strikes me as most odd.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. sam says:

    “Now I’ll admit, and I’ve said this before, I’m a man of flaws, there’s no question about it. You know, I wasn’t born with a silver spoon, I haven’t been born wealthy,” he said.”

    Moreover, my wife owns a plain, teapartyish cloth coat, said Miller.

  2. Derrick says:

    ” There seems to be a feeling among politicians in Alaska that they’re entitled to run for office without having to be accountable to the public or answer questions from the press. ”

    I would change that Alaska to the Tea Party. The ironic thing about the Tea Party candidates is that while boasting about candidates who will be accountable to the people, they don’t actually want to be accountable for anything they’ve ever said or done.

  3. Michael says:

    Yawn. He is still going to win.

  4. madawaskan says:

    If you do enough digging the charge is that he voted multiple times in the Republican Chair election from other employees’ computers.

    Won’t disuss it-Miller.

  5. Brummagem Joe says:

    “Yawn. He is still going to win.”

    I thought so at one time but it’s now much more of an open question..

  6. madawaskan says:

    I have no idea why he thinks it’s a good idea to ignore that allegation.

    Anyways-don’t know enough about the goings on up there.

    A regular soap opera.

    Plus it’s interesting how the blogosphere on the right thinks it can pretend like he never made the 17th amendment gaffe.

    Basically the Instapundit , tea party blogosphere crowd is doing the same thing they use to complain the Liberal media did.

    There’s probably an argument to be made that the latter party has been corrupted more rapidly and for a lot less.

  7. steve says:

    At a time when people consider a college term paper pertinent, it does seem odd that actions taken as a party official merit no discussion. Now that news and media are segregated, I think that this will continue to be the new normal. Media aligned with the candidate will not investigate. Those who do investigate will be dismissed because they come from the wrong side of the political divide.


  8. PD Shaw says:

    Is he conflating personal issues with personnel issues? I know government employees get up in arms when their personnel files are made available to the press; threaten lawsuits, etc. What the employees union will say is that the information is not necessarily accurate, it consists of unsubstantiated allegations and recriminations from supervisors or other employees. That’s a process issue though. I agree with Madawskan and think it’s better if he got his story, explanation, apology out there. Rookie mistake.

  9. Alan Kellogg says:

    Well, Mr. Miller, you do seem to have blown this chance. Too important to divulge information, or are you convinced you’re entitled to the job of US Senator? If you don’t want to be censured for committing stupid mistakes, think, and think long and hard, before you commit a stupid mistakes. If it seems like a dumb move, then don’t do it.

    It’s called foresight, you ass, and it works. I used it before adding the phrase, “you ass” and decided it was about time somebody took you to task for being an ass. Your behavior has shown me that your opponent in your race would make a better US Senator, because he doesn’t make the dumb ass mistakes you do. Better the fool who knows to keep his mouth shut, instead of the fool who blabs like a teenage girl after four cups of coffee.

    Enjoy your coming loss, and know it was you who blew it.

  10. TG Chicago says:

    I’d like to second what Derrick said. It’s not Alaska, it’s the Tea Party. Sharon Angle and Jan Brewer have shown similar cowardice in the face of the press.

  11. Seth Owen says:

    The East Germans had a rather simpler problem, of course, as no one was trying to get IN.