Politics & Government

Alaska's Miller downplays 2008 ethics breach

Joe Miller is downplaying his use of Fairbanks North Star Borough computers for partisan political purposes in 2008 and hasn't decided whether to appeal a judge's ruling that the borough must release his employment records at 4 p.m. today. The Republican U.S. Senate nominee minimizes the incident, which violated the borough's ethics policy, and is charging that Sen. Lisa Murkowski did something similar by sending campaign e-mails to Alaska school district addresses in 2004. The Murkowski campaign argues that doesn't compare to what Miller did.

Former Fairbanks North Star Borough Mayor Jim Whitaker said earlier this month that Miller used borough computers in a failed 2008 attempt to oust state Republican Party Chairman Randy Ruedrich. Miller first refused to answer questions from the press about it, then acknowledged he had been disciplined.

"It is true, during a lunch hour I did get on borough computers and I participated in a private poll for about five minutes. It was a mistake I made; I was suspended for three days or received a dock of three days' pay. I've learned from that," Miller said during the KTUU television debate in Anchorage Sunday night.

But it appears as though Miller, as a part-time employee, was not entitled to a lunch hour. Miller "did not get a lunch hour at the borough," his supervisor, Fairbanks North Star Borough Attorney Rene Broker, said in an interview.

Borough Human Resources Director Sallie Stuvek said Miller typically worked a 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. shift. Miller shared an office at the borough with another part-time attorney who worked an 8 a.m. until noon shift, she said. However, on the March 2008 date that appears to be the day when Miller improperly used the computers, he wrote an e-mail to another attorney saying, "I should be in before lunch today." He didn't say why he was coming in early.

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