Our view: Remember the code?
October 20, 2010
If Miller used computers to stack vote, that’s cheating
The honor code at the United States Military Academy is succinct and straightforward:
“A cadet will not lie, cheat, steal or tolerate those who do.”
That’s the issue in Joe Miller’s record at the Fairbanks North Star Borough.
Miller on Monday told CNN that he had been disciplined for violating the borough’s ethics policy in 2008. He gave no details, except to say that whatever it was happened on his lunch hour.
But according to an e-mail by Kodiak Republican activist Mike Rostad, Rex Miller, the candidate’s father, told Rostad in a phone conversation that his son used his colleagues’ borough computers to vote in an online Republican Party poll. Miller hoped to unseat Alaska party chief Randy Ruedrich and take his place.
The e-mail described Miller’s use of multiple computers as an attempt to boost the vote against Ruedrich. In other words, Miller was trying to stack the poll against Ruedrich.
To put it bluntly, the former West Point cadet was cheating.
Miller then tried to erase his tracks on his colleagues’ computers. When they noticed that something was amiss, Miller’s use was uncovered. He acknowledged to his employer that he had violated borough ethics policy by misusing the computers and was disciplined.
Neither Miller nor his campaign officials have confirmed or denied Rostad’s account of what happened. Miller has steadfastly, and indignantly, refused to answer any questions from Alaska reporters about the matter.
As described by his father, Miller’s actions violated the code that is the foundation of every cadet’s West Point career.
Miller argues that this is a petty issue, a distraction from the challenges Alaska and the nation face. On one level, he’s right. Neither Alaska nor the Republic will stand or fall based on Miller’s misuse of computers as a borough employee or his effort to grab Ruedrich’s job.
But what Miller allegedly did speaks directly to character, and character is very much an issue in any political campaign. Any West Point cadet would know that you don’t violate an employers’ ethics policy after you’ve agreed to follow it. You don’t stuff the ballot box in a party poll to serve your own ends. You don’t compound the violation by trying to cover it up. And later, when you seek high public office and are asked to explain what happened, you don’t obfuscate and mislead. You don’t imply that ethics policies are suspended during lunch time.
That’s not conduct worthy of a cadet, an Army officer or a candidate for public office.
There is still time for Miller to explain to Alaskans what happened at the borough. He should own up to what he did — and put his faith in voters to measure its significance. Miller isn’t running for sainthood, he’s running for the U.S. Senate.
But if he can’t be honest about the “petty” issues, why should Alaskans trust him with the big ones?
BOTTOM LINE: Joe Miller should remember the honor code and come clean with Alaska voters.