Republicans: Miller cause of 'division and chaos'
The Pima County Republican Party threw another punch at Chairman Brian Miller on Tuesday, saying the titular head of the county party has caused "division and chaos."
In an emailed statement, the GOP said that Miller's statements following the May 5 SWAT raid that killed Jose Guerena divided the party, "created serious problems for our elected officials" and hurt Republican fundraising efforts.
The email also questioned Miller's use of party funds.
The email follows a meeting last Thursday, when the county party's executive committee asked Miller to resign.
When he refused, the GOP told Miller to stop speaking for the party, to return its checkbook and credit cards, not enter into contracts, and to return the keys to party headquarters. Party leaders voted 10-2 on the resolution.
The move effectively ended—at least for the moment—Miller's leadership of the county party, although he refuses to resign.
Instead, he quoted John Belushi's Bluto from "Animal House" in a statement posted on Facebook on Friday morning: "What? Over? Did you say 'over'? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!"
The move is "a political witchhunt," he said in an interview Friday morning, saying "there's no room for differing views" in the Republican Party.
The call for his resignation is a way of "avenging old political scores," Miller said.
Before taking the chairmanship in December, Miller sought the GOP nomination in the CD 8 race. He received 7 percent of the vote, even though he had withdrawn and endorsed Jonathan Paton days prior to the August vote. The primary nod went to Jesse Kelly, who lost a close race to incumbent Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
Miller, a pilot in the Air Force Reserve, has caught flak from some Republicans for supporting a military withdrawal from Afghanistan, and for saying that laws prohibiting demonstrations outside funerals abridge free speech.
The party has fractured over Miller's statements critical of police tactics in the May 5 SWAT raid that killed ex-Marine Joe Guerena.
The county chair sent out an official GOP email in May titled "We are all Jose Guerena," writing "It is my hope that this tragic event will lead to a renewed discussion of the policies that routinely lead to heavily armed and militarized local police invading private homes and a renewed interest in the civil liberties codified in our Bill of Rights."
Last month, the party forced Miller to retract a statement on a radio talk show calling Guerena's death "murder."
"It was never my intention to besmirch those officers, and it is my understanding that they were, indeed, following the procedures they were given," Miller wrote in a June 3 email.
"Their job is to follow established policies, protocols and guidelines they have been given," Miller wrote. "My concern is with the policies themselves, and whether or not there are better ways for law enforcement, not only here in Pima County but throughout the United States, to conduct themselves so as to minimize risk to the officers, suspects and innocent civilians who may be caught up in police actions."
Miller wouldn't comment on the Guerena incident Friday, calling it "water under the bridge" as a party issue. "I think we've addressed that," he said.
Miller "has made numerous public statements and comments indicating a distrust of Pima County and Tucson law enforcement agencies," the GOP's executive committee said in an email Friday morning.
"The misimpression created by Brian Miller, the current Chair of the County Committee, is not the policy of the County Committee and is in no manner adopted by the Executive Committee," said a resolution passed by the Republicans.
"Police militarization is not new, but difficult to discuss publicly," Miller said on Facebook on May 15. "LE is like the military: when u criticize policy, u r tagged "unpatriotic" / "weak on crime". Since I've gone from "unpatriotic" / "treasonous" last year to "courageous" / "principled" this year on Afghan conflict, I may as well dive into this can of worms that PCSD has opened."
Pima GOP statement regarding Brian Miller
The role of the Republican Party is clear: to elect candidates and support those candidates once elected. The recent statements and actions of Chairman Brian Miller have not served to further those goals, but rather the opposite. Mr. Miller's statements regarding the SWAT raid have created serious problems for our elected officials, money raising efforts and have divided the Party. Mr. Miller was given repeated opportunities to either mend these fences or resign his position, and has chosen to do neither. Instead, he has continued to make controversial statements to the press.
As is the case with any organized governing body, no elected officer should be off in their own direction. This is especially important for the Chairman position. When the leader of an organization speaks for himself instead of the body that he was elected to, then division and chaos are the result. That is an unacceptable position for any organized body to be in and yet that is where the Pima GOP finds itself today.
Furthermore, in recent days serious questions have been raised as to the use of Party funds under Mr. Miller's leadership. Mr. Miller has contracted for thousands of dollars of spending without proper Executive Committee oversight or approval which is in violation of the Committee bylaws.
In light of these concerns, the Pima GOP Executive Committee has chosen to strip Mr. Miller of his authority as Chairman. The Precinct Committeemen of Pima County have called a special meeting and we will be convening as soon as possible to vote on a bylaws change. If that passes the PCs will decide whether they wish to remove Mr. Miller from the board.