Politics & Government

Alaska GOP candidate Miller's wife collected unemployment after clerk job

The wife of Joe Miller, the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate, drew unemployment after working as his clerk in 2002 when he was a federal magistrate, a fact Sen. Lisa Murkowski argued is inconsistent with Miller's position on the constitutionality of such benefits.

Miller has called unemployment benefits unconstitutional, although he's expanded on that to say he does not want the program gutted but rather for it to be entirely under the control of the states.

Miller said in an e-mail, in response to questions, that his wife, Kathleen, worked for him as a clerk/secretary when he became a part-time magistrate judge in 2002. Miller held the post until 2004.

"Before 2004 there was a long-standing practice, both in Fairbanks as well as other areas in the United States, that due to the time commitments of being a lawyer and a part-time Federal Magistrate judge the same individuals that worked in your private law offices also worked in your federal magistrate office -- many of those being family members. Before even applying for the Fairbanks Magistrate judgeship I spoke with members of the federal court concerning the employment of Kathleen. It was confirmed that she could work for me in my office. After leaving my office Kathleen did receive unemployment benefits for a short period of time," Miller said in the e-mail sent to the Daily News and others Monday night.

Blogger and Murkowski supporter Andrew Halcro has claimed, based on anonymous sources, that the hiring violated nepotism rules and Miller was forced to fire his wife from the position.

The Miller campaign did not respond to questions posed by the Daily News Monday night and Tuesday about why Kathleen Miller left the magistrate clerk job after just seven months. The campaign also did not respond when asked which members of the federal court gave Miller permission to hire his wife in the magistrate's office.

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