Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Joe Miller Document Release is a Non-Scandal of Epic Proportions

You have to hand it to Alaska politics. Nowhere else in the world can make such an issue out of online opinion polls or jackets...

After being an outside observer of this stuff for well over two years, I think I have a pretty good grasp on how this works. Conservative opposition (be they sponsored by the DNC or by VECO) use a willing media to hype up some supposed big scandal involving use of the court system to build said hype around, then release of targeted documents in order to build the perception of impropriety. Such was the case in the past with Democrat operatives abuse of the ethics system combined with their use of the media to attack Governor Palin. So it is somewhat disconcerting to see Lisa Murkowski implore those same tactics against Joe Miller in the lead up to the November 2nd election.

Due to a court order, Fairbanks North Star Borough released some of Joe Miller's personnel records after a suit was filed by the Alaskan media following the leaking of records by a former mayor of the Borough, Jim Whitaker. According to the Alaska Dispatch:
The records released by the borough Tuesday in response to a lawsuit filed by Alaska Dispatch and joined by other news organizations add weight to allegations that surfaced this fall about Miller having found himself in hot water while working for the borough.
The media hyped the release of these records to the extent that some Conservatives were getting a little nervous about their contents. Once Miller spoke to the press about what was to be released, that nervousness quickly turned into laughter. After reading all the documents myself, that laughter has turned into eye rolling. I'm sure Murkowski supporters are felling a little underwhelmed right now.

I do have to hand it to the McAdams campaign for trying to stay above this nonsensical mudslinging. Scott McAdams has said he wants to stay focused on the issues. The fact that he and Joe Miller differ on the issues should be what Alaskans are focused on at this time. However, the Queen of Entitlement robbed Alaskans of that opportunity first by entering this race as a write-in, now by distracting voters away from both her record and the important topics facing this nation.

So let's get to the content of the documents, but first a little background...

Joe Miller served in a part time position for the Fairbanks North Star Borough for seven years. He did resign his post, but it was NOT as a result of any wrongdoing on his part as has been suggested by the Murkowski campaign or their friends in the media. Stating in a press conference on Tuesday, the Miller campaign said that after serving the Borough for that duration, it was time to move on. Miller had planned to have knee surgery, which would have taken him out of of the office for an extended amount of time. Plus, there where ongoing policy issues at that time that he disagreed with. He cannot specify the details of those policy issues without Jim Whitaker agreeing to release documents regarding each matter.

The biggest piece of information the media is playing up from these records is the revelation that Joe Miller used government computers to take part in an online poll. Yes, that's all they got out of this entire ordeal. An online poll...

Miller was asked during the last debate about this matter and confessed that what he did was wrong. Shortly after the incident took place, Miller offered to resign and was subsequently turned down by the Borough. His actually resignation took place two years AFTER what I'll refer to as 'online poll-gate.' Miller admitted he made a mistake. He paid a price for that misstep and then he and the Borough moved on with the business of the day.

The Alaska Dispatch and other media outlets are trying to make a big deal out of the fact that the Miller campaign did not release these records earlier. One reason for that is that they did not want to compromise personal information belonging to others, such as private account numbers that were listed throughout certain pages. Joe Miller's political opponents have even gone so far as to accuse him of covering up the Borough job entirely. That is simply not the case as he has posted this position on his Facebook page and on his online, Linked In profile. Joe Miller is an open book. All of his military records are publicly available on his website, and the scrutiny he has come under during this election process has been thorough to say the least.

The Miller campaign stated during a press conference that there were certain inaccuracies and claims made in the records released on Tuesday that they did not agree with. They said that there was a form included in the documents that discussed an issue about an insufficient notice given for his resignation from the Borough post. Miller says he had never seen that document before the release of these records.

The Murkowski camp has also been smearing Joe Miller by implying that he purposely deleted emails that were public record in order to cover something up. First of all, emails on the Borough's server are backed up and can be retrieved at any time. The Borough IT professional verified this. Secondly, according to the Attorney General, not all emails are considered public. Thirdly, an individual who worked for the Borough wrote in one of the emails released in Tuesday's batch that Joe Miller "kept a clean inbox" dealing with his daily mail. It was common for him to delete emails once he was done reading them.

Now back to Mayor Whitaker...

Jim Whitaker, former mayor of the Fairbanks North Star Borough is the person responsible for leaking these personnel records in the first place. A complaint has been filed against him for releasing confidential records without permission. While Whitaker is a Republican, don't let that fool you. He endorsed Barack Obama in 2008 which led the then-mayor to a speaking role at the Democratic National Convention in Denver. At the time, he was touted as an example of Barack Obama's ability to "bring people together." We see all too clearly today what a farce that notion was.

In my opinion, this entire episode is political theater. As I stated in the beginning, well financed political operatives working with the media build these spectacles in Alaska on a regular basis. The build up of hype. The use of the court system. Then the actual findings, which usually prove that Conservative Alaskans are pretty squared away individuals. All of this is designed to grab headlines from a more than willing press, and distract the voters. As Joe Miller stated during the debate the other night, "the primary election was about the issues, and we won that race. The general has become about personal attacks."

That's what you call a shift in strategy. Lisa Murkowski has already run a race on the issues and she lost. So, she and her campaign made a conscious decision to change their tactics. From labeling the Tea Party as "extremists" to questioning Joe Miller's honor, everything the Murkowski has rested her fate on comes at the expense of completely trashing her opposition. Although she is considered a third party candidate, Lisa is well funded by those who need her to retain her position in DC to continue that cozy relationship with their congressional connection. I hope Alaskans see through Lisa Murkowski and the media spin in relation to the release of these documents. The issues facing this nation are too important to get tripped up by dirty political ploys.
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