Alaska Senate candidate Joe Miller is remaining cool in the face of new evidence detailing his 2008 breach of Fairbanks ethics practices, an incident in which he reportedly used the computers of four co-workers to participate in a survey that would have ousted the Alaska GOP chairman, a position Miller sought for himself.
Miller provided the partial disclosure only after it became clear that a court might order the full release of documents outlining the apparent violation of borough policy. His campaign has until 4 p.m. this afternoon to appeal the full dispensing of his records, but the way Miller has handled the incident since deciding to come clean might lead some to believe that his campaign won't bother to do so.
"Alaskans get to understand that, hey, they're electing somebody like them," Miller said on Sunday during a debate, after admitting the transgression and explaining that he had been docked three days pay as punishment for the matter.
Miller had earlier claimed that he had carried out the plan on a lunch break, saying that it wasn't done on taxpayer time, but new reports show that Miller, a part-time employee during the incident, did not receive lunch breaks.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Miller's write-in opponent, isn't willing to let the surprise winner of the Republican primary off so easily. She raised concerns Sunday over whether the substantial list of controversial remarks and practices brought Miller's fitness to serve in the Senate into question. Miller has countered her attacks, however, and retaliated with his own claiming that Murkowski had also taken part in a questionable campaign practice back in 2004.
The Anchorage Daily News reports:
"You were involved yourself with computer use in 2004, where you sent out thousands of e-mails on a school district computer system. Illegal. And yet you use the same standard for me," Miller said.
He was talking about a spam message that Murkowski's campaign staff sent in 2004 to the e-mail addresses of thousands of Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau school district employees. Anchorage School District Superintendent Carol Comeau expressed outrage at the time, citing the district's policy against using its computer network for partisan political activities.
Though Murkowski eventually apologized for the action, her campaign says that such activity pales in comparison to what Miller did in 2008.
"Hacking into four of his co-workers' computers, illegally voting in a poll and then trying to cover up his tracks doesn't compare to this," a Murkowski campaign spokesman said, according to the Daily News.
Miller also attempted to shift the focus against the political legacy of Lisa Murkowski, whose father Frank gave her his Senate seat when he became governor in 2002, and said that his mistakes were evidence of his potential "value" as a senator.
"I've gone through trials. I've not always had a silver spoon," Miller said. "I've had challenges in life and that gives them an empathy for where I'm at, and I think that's a value that I bring to the table."