The revelations, reported by the Associated Press and the Web site Alaska Dispatch based on public documents that a judge ordered released on Tuesday, show that Miller was caught using colleagues' computers for political business and that he lied about it repeatedly before admitting the wrongdoing. Miller was conducting his own poll in an effort to oust a state GOP chairman, and he used his colleagues' computers to vote in the poll, then erased their computers' caches to hide what he did.
"I was beyond stupid," Miller wrote in a letter of apology included in the documents. He was suspended for three days without pay in March 2008.
He added it was an idea recognized by former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens earlier this year. Alaska is sitting on a wealth of natural resources, Miller said, and promised to fight for development just as Stevens, who served in the U.S. Senate representing Alaska for 40 years, fought to bring home federal dollars.
McAdams questioned Miller's ability to follow through on his claims, saying, "I think he'll find more opponents in the Senate than he'll find allies." Murkowski called Miller's plans simplistic. She said she was not sure how Miller could force areas to be opened for resource extraction, given that the federal government owns two-thirds of Alaska.
Miller said a new day is coming and Alaska needs to be prepared. While the past few decades have been a blessing, he said--a period in which members of Alaska's delegation brought home billions in federal aid and projects--it's a "dream" to think that will continue. He believes the fights should be waged during the appropriations process.
But McAdams, like Murkowski, argued the need for Alaska to continue fighting for what he calls its fair share. Murkowski stressed her seniority as critical to helping to ensure Alaska's voice is heard.
Murkowski shouldn't have voted for the bill, said a Miller campaign spokesman, since she and her family had investments in several of the more than 800 financial institutions that accepted bailout money. The Miller campaign drew attention to the family's holdings at the time in Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo [totaling under $100,000]. Both companies took bailout money; both paid the government back in 2009, plus returned $3.3 billion in profit.
A Miller campaign spokesman said, "There was a conflict of interest there." So I asked: "Does that apply to any senator who happened to own stock in any of 800 banks?" The Miller spokesman wouldn't address other senators, but said Murkowski should have recused herself.
Miller may have missed hi opponent's response, rebutting by saying, "This whole anti-development perspective of the Democratic Party, we've got to stop it, because that's not the future of this state."
On regional hydroelectric projects, McAdams said that he would fight for federal funding.
Miller agreed that energy projects needed to move forward, but that federal regulatory burdens would make projects less likely to happen. "Any time you say there isn't room for private enterprise, I think you're making a mistake," he said. "Any time you're dependent on the feds, let me tell you, it's a dead end. We need to work forward to make sure these things can go forward, that we get the feds out of the way in a way that we put these projects to work."
"As we continue to responsibly develop our natural resources, we will bring our state into maturity," McAdams said. "But to say no to earmarks now is a threat to Alaska."
Miller argued that he was not against funds being brought to Alaska, but rather was concerned with the state's over-dependency on federal dollars. "We can pretend that this economic calamity isn't going to impact the state of Alaska," he said. "Or we can do our darnedest to find the direction that provides us with an economic base to move forward in the future."
McAdams said that arguing against projects--like the much maligned & lampooned "Bridge to Nowhere"--was arguing against the future of Alaska.
"The state government supports it and therefore I do," Miller replied. "Even if you were to evaluate it on purely economic grounds, the studies at least that I've reviewed suggest it would not be economic to move the capital."
McAdams chose slightly stronger words in his response. "Let me be clear: over my dead body," he said.
Miller said he "absolutely" supports the building of a road out of Juneau, but then turned the argument towards regulatory burdens, indicating that the federal government was the main roadblock to the project.
McAdams said that improving transportation in Southeast is imperative, and that funding needs to be secured for any projects that arise. "I'm a big marine highway transportation guy," he said.
The above quotations are from 2010 Alaska Senate Debates.
Click here for other excerpts from 2010 Alaska Senate Debates.
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