Alex Constantine - October 26, 2010
Records: Alaska's Miller admits to wrongful computer use, lies
Senate candidate also had dispute about leave that led to resignation
msnbc.com staff and news service reports
JUNEAU, Alaska — Alaska Republican Senate hopeful Joe Miller admitted to improperly using three co-workers' government computers over a lunch break to access his personal website to participate in a political poll, then cleaning the caches to try to cover up the activities.
Miller's admission is included in records released Tuesday under court order following an open records request by The Associated Press and other media organizations. The records also show a dispute about leave ahead of his Aug. 28, 2009, resignation.
In a March 2008 statement to Fairbanks North Star Borough Attorney Rene Broker, Miller said he'd lied about accessing all the computers initially when asked and about the reasons why he used them. Clearing the caches also removed passwords and website IDs used by co-workers.
Miller, a tea party favorite, is in a three-way race for the Senate. He faces incumbent Lisa Murkowski, now a write-in candidate he beat in the primary, and Democrat Scott McAdams, Sitka mayor.
Miller, who was working as a borough attorney in 2008, said he understood his actions were wrong.
The records show Broker suspended Miller for three days and referred him to an employee assistance program.
"I expect that you will work hard to rebuild the co-worker relationships that were harmed due to your actions on March 12, 2008," she wrote. "It will take effort on your part to regain their trust.
Miller acknowledged in a March 17, 2008, e-mail that "I did not clear the cache to cause harm to anyone and was not aware of the impact that would cause my fellow employees."
Read Joe Miller's e-mail exchange over his employment (PDF)
Clearing the caches "also cleared out passwords and ID's for various websites that people were using and was very hurtful. ... I acknowledge that my access to others' computers was wrong, participating in the poll was wrong, lying was wrong, and there is absolutely no excuse for any of it," he wrote.
Miller also wrote that he first lied about accessing the computers, then admitted accessing them but lying about what he was doing and then, "Finally, I admitted what I did."
Former Fairbanks North Star Borough Mayor Jim Whitaker said earlier this month that Miller used the computers in 2008 for a failed attempt to oust state Republican Party Chairman Randy Ruedrich, the Anchorage Daily News reported. After Whitaker's statement, Miller first refused to answer questions from the press about it, then acknowledged he had been disciplined.
Besides the computer fiasco, an email exchange on Sept. 1, 2009, indicates a disagreement between Miller and Broker over the nature of a denied leave request.
He submitted his resignation Aug. 28, 2009.
Miller said in one email that he sought personal leave but that the borough had him change the request to Family and Medical Leave.
He later canceled a medical procedure that seemed to have been the basis of the leave.
"Did you or did you not represent that the leave was due to your [redacted]?" Broker said in an e-mail. "You cannot obtain leave on the basis that you need [redacted] immediately and keep the leave when that circumstance changes significantly."
An hour later he responded with an e-mail that she knew he had sought time for an elk hunt with his sons, which he said Broker inappropriately canceled, and also planned a bear hunt.
"I certainly wasn't trying to escape any pressing work project," Miller said.