GOVERNMENT

UPDATE: Salt Lake County GOP accepts chairman’s resignation after allegations within party

Mar 27, 2021, 5:22 PM | Updated: Mar 28, 2021, 6:48 pm
Salt Lake County Republican Party shake-up...
Scott Miller, then vice chairman of the Salt Lake County Republican Party, addresses the media in 2016. He resigned his post as chairman amid controversy over allegations of bullying. (Photo: Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)
(Photo: Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — The Salt Lake County GOP released a statement Sunday evening, officially accepting the resignation of its chairman, Scott Miller, who stepped down after sexual harassment allegations against one of his volunteers. The state’s Republican Party is set to elect his replacement May 1. 

The Executive Committee of the Salt Lake County GOP was set to schedule a meeting this week to address the allegations, potentially launching an investigation or censuring Miller. However, the chairman resigned Sunday morning. 

“I would like to publicly apologize on behalf of the Salt Lake County Republican Party to candidates, volunteers and any others who feel they were mistreated during their interactions with our Party,” said Scott Rosenbush, acting chair of the Salt County GOP. “In particular to several women who have made specific complaints. This is not who we are as a County or as a Party. We can and will do better.”

Salt Lake County GOP Chairman resigns amid allegations against party volunteer

Miller resigned amid allegations one of his volunteers had harassed seven women in the party — receiving backlash from his initial response that many in his own party deemed unacceptable.

The letter Miller sent delegates on Friday, followed by another email the next day, addressed sexual harassment allegations by seven women against one of his unnamed volunteers. 

The allegations were further reported on by the Salt Lake Tribune, which published an article Saturday evening detailing the complaints the women described as a “toxic” work environment. Although Miller’s email did not explicitly name the volunteer, the Salt Lake Tribune identified him as Scott Robinson, an unofficial communication director of the state’s Republican Party. 

In his initial email, Miller detailed the “foul” allegations from seven women who belong to the Utah Republican Party, which he called “very suspicious” and deriving from their “political agenda.” Miller said he learned of the allegations from Salt Lake Tribune reporter Leia Larson when she reached out for an interview.

“Instead of bringing their allegations directly to me and to the Salt Lake County GOP Executive Committee, calling for an independent investigation of their allegations, they take their salacious allegations to the ‘Democrat’s political high court’: the Salt Lake Tribune,” Miller wrote in his email, which was obtained by KSL NewsRadio. 

Republican leaders rebuke Salt Lake County GOP Chair Miller for ‘unacceptable’ response

Gov. Spencer Cox — along with other Republican leaders in the state — responded before the article was published, calling on Miller to apologize. Other leaders called Miller’s actions “nasty” and urging he be held accountable.

“Absolutely unacceptable that the SLCo Chair sent a nasty, false attack email out using the official county party logo & email list,” State Rep. Candice B. Pierucci (R-Salt Lake City) tweeted Saturday afternoon. “This is a gross misuse of party resources, completely unprofessional, derogatory & wrong. The chair should be censured & held accountable.”

Gov. Cox issued a joint statement with Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson, calling the email “unacceptable.” The governor called on the chairman to issue apologies to each of the women he named in his letter, noting it’s “not an easy thing” to come forward. 

“We are deeply offended by the recent reprehensible communications to Salt Lake County delegates,” Gov. Cox tweeted. “Let us be clear: This type of behavior should never happen and when it does we will not tolerate it, ignore it, or explain it away.”

Miller backtracks initial comments, resigns next morning

Miller sent another email to delegates Saturday evening, assuring members he “applaud[s] these women for coming forward” with their allegations. 

“I take these allegations seriously,” Miller wrote in an email Saturday evening. “I want to be very clear, I do not and will not tolerate sexual harassment, sexual assault, etc.  This is a very personal issue for me and others.  I know the immediate and long-term effects of such.”

The chairman said he took “immediate action” when he learned of the allegations. He said he released all volunteers from their positions if they weren’t working for the upcoming GOP convention. That included the volunteer whom women alleged misconduct against. 

The volunteer has since requested a third-party investigation against the claims, according to the letter. 

Miller said because the request was initially denied, he didn’t learn of the allegations until The Salt Lake Tribune reached out for an interview. When speaking with Larson, he characterized the allegations as “internal squabbling” among the state Republican Party. 

“Unfortunately, several of the allegations and persons involved were made known to me by the Salt Lake Tribune, not the accusers,” Miller wrote in his Saturday email. “I simply included the information from the Tribune meeting in my March 26, 2021 email to you.”

In response, Miller said he would propose a draft harassment policy — which outlines a clear procedure in the event of sexual assault allegations — to be adopted by the Salt Lake County Republican Party. The chairman called on Gov. Cox to respond to the draft policy with comments by the end of Monday. 

“As soon as the policy is adopted, I will invite each and every accuser to submit their allegations and complaints, and any corroborating evidence, in accordance with our new Policy,” Miller wrote. “By end of day March 31, 2021, I will provide an outline for the 3rd Party investigation. We need to get to the truth of these allegations once and for all.”

It’s unclear whether this policy will be adopted, as former Chairman Miller announced his resignation the next morning.

Utah GOP decries actions, calling on the party to do better

Utah Republican Party Chairman Derek Brown responded to the incident Saturday evening. He called Miller’s initial response “a public example of what [the women] may have experienced privately.” He went on to issue a statement of support for the seven women. He noted the state Republican party stands behind their right to speak out about their experiences. 

After Miller’s resignation Sunday morning, Brown released another statement supporting the decision. In the latest statement, Brown named the previously unnamed volunteer, calling his actions “abhorrent.” 

“Yesterday’s public revelation of David Robinson’s abhorrent behavior towards some of the most respected women in our party, and Miller’s own role in that behavior, show me we have work to do,” Brown said in a statement. “These women bravely raised their concerns with county party leadership, and nothing was done. That is unacceptable.”

This story is developing and will be updated as more information becomes available. 

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UPDATE: Salt Lake County GOP accepts chairman’s resignation after allegations within party