Interview with Alaska Senate Candidate Joe Miller

Interview with Alaska Senate Candidate Joe Miller

By John King, USA - October 18, 2010

KING: The closing weeks of any campaign get chaotic, but things hardly ever end up with a reporter in handcuffs. It happened last night in Anchorage when a newspaper reporter was handcuffed by a private security guard hired by Republican U.S. Senate candidate Joe Miller's campaign. Mr. Miller is here with us to help us try to figure out just what happened and Mr. Miller, let's start with the incident last night.

Mr. Hopfinger (ph), Tony Hopfinger (ph) he says he showed up at a public school, at a publicly announced campaign event and tried to just ask you questions in the hall and as a result, he was handcuffed by your security detail. Is that what happened?

JOE MILLER (R), ALASKA SEN. CANDIDATE: There was one particular blogger. He worked for a blog here in Alaska that hounded me on the way out the door, and you know invaded personal space. I answered a question, but continued to get in the way of us as we are trying to leave. And I ended up turning around and going the other way. There was a private security team that was required. We had to hire them because the school required that as a term of their lease. And after I'd left, apparently he shoved somebody and then they arrested him.

KING: The private security detail held him, the Anchorage police came and they said they would leave it up to the district attorney whether or not to press charges. But in hindsight looking back on this, use of handcuffs and holding somebody like that, was that over the top?

MILLER: Well I got to tell you, I mean the behavior that was demonstrated while I was there was assaultive (ph). It was certainly over the top. There's no question that that hounding was something that shouldn't have happened. It was unfortunate. But you know this was a professional team that was hired according to the contract that we had and I'm sure that they did the right thing.

KING: He says what he was trying to do is ask you some simple questions about your past work for the Borough (ph), for the Fairbanks North Star Borough (ph). You have said that you don't want to talk about those things. Let me ask you first just a general question. Where do you draw the line? What is in and what is out in terms of your past employment?

MILLER: Well I think that there's been a real effort here in Alaska to basically take away from the Alaskan voter the opportunity to see the issues that are before them. There's been a concerted effort to cloud it with things from the past that really have nothing -- they're petty issues and that's all they are. They aren't things that have anything to do with where we are as a state.

Right now and I've told you this before, John, our state has 40 percent of its economy that's dependent on the federal dollar, and yet the federal government is headed toward bankruptcy. And as long as we talk about petty issues or we talk about you know a reporter that assaulted somebody, we aren't getting at the issues.

KING: I think a fair issue for any voter to make is can I trust somebody that I'm going to send to Washington for a six-year term to deal with these big consequential issues, and the question Mr. Hopfinger (ph) says he was trying to ask you was this. Were you ever disciplined when you worked for the Borough (ph) for improperly using essentially public taxpayer computers for political purposes?

MILLER: What he asked me was I ever threatened with termination from the Fairbanks North Star Borough (ph) and I answered him directly and I said no and that's the straight truth. That's exactly what we've said consistently throughout this campaign and that was the answer that we gave him and again, yet another attempt to look at something from years ago to dissuade the voters from the issues that are at hand. Yes, our perspective is, is the record speaks for itself. The work I did there as a part-time Borough (ph) attorney speaks for itself.

The work that I did as a veteran, a combat veteran of Desert Storm speaks for itself. The work I did as a judge speaks for itself and again those records are reflected not just on our Web site, but also in the public record. And so again, it's an attempt, particularly here locally by this blogger specifically whose by the way editor is a max donor to my opponent to take away from the voters here in Alaska an opportunity to examine the issues and that is where we're headed as a state if we don't change it around.

KING: The mayor of the Fairbanks North Star Borough (ph), Mr. Whitaker, was quoted in a newspaper saying you were disciplined for violating the ethics policy. Is that true?

MILLER: I will answer that correctly that it was in fact a case that happened while I was at the borough. There were a myriad of things that happened over time and this was something back in 20008, but the fact of the matter is the performance of the borough at the time that I left had absolutely nothing to do with anything that happened two years before then. This is an attempt again to take away from the voters an opportunity to see where we are at as a state, an opportunity to take a choice that is not based on the past which is the Scott McAdams Lisa Murkowski path, but one that is designed to look at the petty issues and say that really is what matters to voters. I don't think it's fair to Alaskans.

KING: I'm not in a position, I work in Washington, D.C. I'm not in a position to define what the people of Alaska view as a legitimate issue or a petty issue, but I would just simply ask you this. You take issues sometimes with Lisa Murkowski's record, her voting record as a taxpayer paid member of the United States Senate. Is it not fair game to look at your history as a taxpayer paid attorney, anything and everything you did on a public pay roll as a public servant? MILLER: Well the event in question is something that happened on my time off. It was during a lunch hour, so frankly there's not a direct correlation to that.

KING: As you know, someone who takes the oath and takes a public trust and works in any kind of public service, you have a bar of accountability in ethics. A member of the United States Senate, for example, if Lisa Murkowski wants to raise money, she has to leave the office. She can't make that fundraiser call on a taxpayer funded phone. She has to go somewhere else and use a private phone. The question in your case, you said this happened on your lunch hour. Were you disciplined for doing something on your lunch hour maybe you thought was right but that the mayor or someone else thought was wrong, was a violation?

MILLER: John, I'll admit I'm a man of many flaws. I'm not going to sit back and say I've conducted my life perfectly. I will tell you anything I have done that isn't right has been accounted for, has been taken care of, and I move on and I learn from mistakes. To suggest that in fact this is, in fact, if you look at how this arose, it was basically designed to tie that event to something that happened, again, well after a departure that arose because of disputes that I had with the direction of that local government. And again, when we get confused in the details and when we talk about the details as we are in this conversation, what does it do? It takes voters away from the real issues. The real issues for Alaska again is that this state has to change direction. This nation has to change direction. It's a tactic that from our perspective, is you know obviously if the press reports on it 24 hours a day, it has some success. But who loses in the end? It is the voter.

KING: Let me try to end it right here then and you tell me whether I've tried this before and you've been straight up. Is this a fair statement in your view? That at the time this happens, you weren't disciplined for something, but it had nothing to do with the reason you left the agency down the road?

MILLER: Absolutely. That's a fair statement.

KING: Joe Miller is the Republican candidate for Senate in the state of Alaska in a fascinating three arm race, a little more than two weeks to go. Mr. Miller, thanks for your time.

MILLER: Thanks, John. Appreciate it.


John King, USA

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