4 Reasons why Rep. Justin Miller just might not resign after all

The pressure is mounting for Rep. Justin Miller to resign. Even House Democrat leadership has made a personal plea to Miller that he step down.

Most assume that ultimate resignation is inevitable.  Indeed, some are asking that with so many groups urging him to resign, why in the world would he stay?

While acknowledging that Miller may in fact resign, and may resign soon, I assert that it’s not so certain. Here are some possible reasons why.

4 Reasons why Rep. Justin Miller just might not resign after all1. Becoming a legislator takes a lot of work, and Miller simply wants to enjoy the fruits of his hard campaign work.

Let’s face it. Being a legislator is pretty cool.  But it takes so much time, effort, sacrifice and pain to become a legislator.  Miller has likely had legislative aspirations for quite a while.  Becoming an elected official may even have been a lifelong ambition. Miller knows he’s not going to be re-elected anytime soon.  So he simply wants to enjoy some time as a legislator – perhaps the only chance he’ll ever have.

He was elected.  He believes he earned a two-year term.  And he wants to enjoy the gig as long as he can.

4 Reasons why Rep. Justin Miller just might not resign after all
Utah House Member Justin Miller (Democrat, Millcreek)
2. Resigning would remove a bargaining chip Miller has with prosecutors.

Miller potentially faces significant criminal charges.  He is alleged to have stolen at least $24,000 from Ben McAdams’ campaign account.  Under Utah law, theft of $24,000 is a second degree felony. (Utah Code 76-6-412(1)).  A second degree felony is punishable “for a term of not less than one year nor more than 15 years.” (Utah Code 76-3-303).

That’s serious stuff.  A conviction to theft charges will put Miller in prison for at least a year.

If charges are filed, Miller will have to seriously consider the possibility of pleading guilty.  Plea bargain negotiations are all about the strength of your case, and how much leverage the parties have.

If Miller can get the charges dropped to a misdemeanor (likely fine and restitution only, no jail time) by pleading guilty and agreeing to resign his legislative seat, that seems like a clear win for Miller.  If Miller has already resigned by the time plea bargain negotiations begin, he loses a significant bargaining chip.

In fact, I would suspect that Miller’s criminal defense attorney has told Miller not to resign for this very reason.

4 Reasons why Rep. Justin Miller just might not resign after all
Courtesy Fox 13.
3. Miller is so irate with the House Democrat leadership that he has decided to not resign just out of spite.

In the legislature, colleagues within your own political party are like family.  You may squabble, but it is expected that you back each other up, and protect and defend each other.

True to typical form, House Minority Leader Brian King’s first reaction upon hearing the allegation was “Until substance is shown to exist behind these allegations, I think we will stand behind Rep. Miller.”

But after requesting, and not receiving, an adequate explanation regarding the allegations, Rep. King and all his fellow democrats have now unanimously called for his resignation. In response, Miller simply says, “It’s unfortunate that . . . the House Democrats have rushed to judgment and called for my resignation.”

Miller apparently has no problem missing Interim sessions.  He skipped May’s Interim session shortly after the story broke.  But as a sign of Miller’s defiance towards his own House Democrat leadership, although Democrat leadership specifically asked Miller to stay away from the Capitol on June Interim day (to avoid the media circus), Miller came anyway, spoke to the media, and told the media he’s not stepping down.

This has turned into a “if-you-aren’t-going-to-support-me-I-will-make-your-life-difficult” pissing match. Ever seen a person decide to not do something just because someone they don’t like suggested they do it? This is what I believe we have here.  Indeed, the more Democrat leadership requests Miller to step down, it may become less and less likely to actually happen.

4. Perhaps Miller really, truly believes he is not guilty.

Maybe this is a stand-on-principle, I-didn’t-do-it-so-I-ain’t-stepping-down move by Miller.

The problem with this is that NO ONE who has listened to the audio of the McAdams/Miller/Dunn meeting believes that Miller is innocent.  Miller keeps saying he wishes he could respond to the charges, and that he just can’t because his attorney has told him not to.  But Rep. King doesn’t believe Miller.  None of Miller’s Democrat colleagues believe him.  The State Democratic party doesn’t believe Miller.  Both the Tribune and Deseret News have editorialized that Miller should step down.

But perhaps Miller really does have a clear defense that he’s keeping hidden from the world.  Or maybe Miller just believes in his own mind (despite all publicly available evidence suggesting otherwise) that he’s entirely innocent. Either of these may stop Miller from resigning.

So in short, maybe Miller resigns.  Maybe he resigns as early as today.  But there are at least four compelling reasons why he may not.

Stay tuned!

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