Utah blindsided by another political scandal
File this under: “Things That Would Have Been Nice To Know Last October.”
Wednesday morning, Utah woke up to another political bombshell. Accused of stealing $30,000 in campaign funds, Rep. Justin Miller, a first-term member of the Utah House, was fired from his job working for Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams. In addition to working as an adviser to McAdams, Miller had previously been McAdams campaign manager.
Oh, and P.S.: Miller was fired in October of 2014.
In a tit-for-tat, Miller accused McAdams of firing him for being a whistle-blower, a charge that McAdams denied at a press conference Wednesday while Salt Lake County DA Sim Gill stood at his side.
You can read Mike Gorrell’s Salt Lake Tribune story here. Good reading, that.
Needless to say, it caught the Utah political community a bit off guard.
It’s not the scandal, but the cover-up
The questions that rise from this morning’s revelations, like flies from a rotting carcass, almost ask themselves:
- Why was Miller’s alleged theft of $30,000, and alleged whistle-blowing, and very factual firing all kept under wraps for over six months?
- Why didn’t DA Gill notify the public that Miller was under investigation? Gill was quick to tell the world about his role investigating John Swallow and the West Valley police department, but slow to chime in about Justin Miller. What gives, Sim?
- Why didn’t Mayor
McDreamyMcAdams notify the public? If A) McAdams has been accused of violating campaign finance rules and B) fired his campaign manager for misappropriating funds, doesn’t John Q Public have a right to know? (And if you’re worried that it had anything to do with losing the legislative district to a Republican, recognize that the district is a safely Democratic and Miller faced a Republican opponent who all but mailed it in).
In his inauguration speech, McAdams said that county residents “demand and expect a mayor who leads a county government that runs efficiently and effectively, in an open, honest and transparent manner. […] I commit to heading a County government that operates by the highest ethical standard.”It’s unfortunate that the standard wasn’t quite high enough at a time when voters might have found Miller’s alleged behavior relevant. After all, transparency and honesty can all have their day…six months after the election, when Democratic County Delegates can select a replacement that will safely be a Democrat.
- For that matter, where is Alliance for a Better Utah and their ready made lawsuit to find–nay, to demand! that the truth be made public?Maryanne Martindale and Josh Kantor usually waste no time in filing suit when an R follows an elected official’s name, but there has been nary a peep from them.Maybe it should be renamed Alliance for a Democratic Utah.
- No, asking when McAdams, Gill, and Miller knew doesn’t matter. They have all admitted they knew. The only questions all start with “why.” (Also, where is the audio recording? Let’s get that up ASAP, and let’s hope that it wasn’t made at Krispy Kreme).
Everyone loves political scandal just like they love to hear thumps under the hood of their car while driving on the interstate. Which is to say, no one loves a scandal. It says nothing positive about democracy and public service.
Worse than the scandal is the cover up.
It was the cover-up that sank President Richard Nixon, not the Watergate break-in. It was efforts to hide pedophile priests rather than purging them from the ranks that hurt the Catholic Church’s credibility.
And the list can go on. My Lai. Iran-Contra. Tea Pot Dome.
Will Miller/McAdams be added to Utah’s version of the list?