On Friday morning, embattled Democratic Representative, Justin Miller pled guilty to one felony count of communications fraud – a second degree offence.
At the same time Miller announced that he will be stepping away from his House seat, representing the Millcreek area of Salt Lake County.
The announcement comes after months of allegations surrounding Miller’s actions while working on Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams 2014 midterm campaign activities.
In a damming audio recording, Miller is heard struggling to explain the disappearance of over $34,000 from McAdams’ campaign funds and would soon be pushed out from that campaign. Not long after, Miller would be dismissed from his position as Salt Lake County Associate Deputy Mayor by McAdams, citing poor performance.
Miller alleged publicly that he was fired because Miller complained too loudly about a deal that McAdams struck with The Exoro Group to rent unused office space for storage of campaign materials. Miller would cry foul because Exoro holds several contracts with Salt Lake County.
McAdams has maintained that the rental was fair, as his campaign was paying fair market value for the space. It has been suggested by Democratic insiders that Miller was making the allegations to act as a smokescreen to divert attention away from himself.
Until this week, Miller has maintained his innocence with a defiant tone, noting that he would not step down and that any investigation would clear him off the accusations levied against him.
In a prepared statement, House Minority Leader Brian King (Democrat, Salt Lake City) said that “[i]t is good that Representative Miller has finally reached the same conclusion that we reached months ago – it is best for House District 40 and the people in the state of Utah for him to resign. This is the responsible thing to do. Ethical government is of the utmost importance to the House Democratic Caucus. The work ahead of us as legislators can now move forward without distraction.”
Speaker of the House, Greg Hughes (Republican – Draper) added that he is “disappointed to learn that Representative Miller has been charged with a crime. Although these actions pre-date his arrival to the Legislature, as elected officials it is our job to be accountable for our actions and respect the integrity of the institution for which we’ve been elected. Representative Miller has made it clear to me that he is cooperating with the proper officials and taking responsibility for his actions. I respect his decision and accept his resignation. Please remember that he has a family and respect their privacy during this difficult time.”
Miller is now ordered to appear to the Salt Lake County Jail to be booked.