Fake news and a kangaroo court


You may wonder why I did not attend today’s Linn County Board of Supervisors meeting.  Here are some of my reasons:

  • I anticipated it was going to be kangaroo court.  And after viewing the video recording of the meeting, there is no doubt it was indeed a kangaroo court. I am thankful I did not attend.  I have no doubt Supervisors Rogers, Walker, and Oleson would have piled on more fake news if I had been present.
  • I provided an update to the Board last week; however, only Supervisors Houser, Harris, and Rogers bothered to show up for that meeting. Then today, they pretend I deprived them of details.  They have the details.  Supervisor Rogers has asked for and received details on an almost daily basis.  The purpose of today’s meeting was to continue his witch-hunt.
  • Electioneering is the act of saying anything negative or positive about a candidate on the ballot in a polling place. I am a candidate on November 6th. For some reason, the Supervisors think their public Board meeting room is immune from the legal requirements of Iowa law Chapters 39A.4 and 53.10.  I cannot control what they do, but I control what I do; hence, I did not attend their meeting today in a building designated as a polling place.

After watching the video, it is clear that Supervisors Rogers, Walker, and Oleson are masters of fake news.  For example,

  • Rogers says, “The Secretary of State said in an email to Auditor Miller that he has not done enough to address this issue”.  Fake news:  I have not received any emails from Secretary of State Paul Pate. 
  • Walker said, “It’s almost criminal” what Miller has done.  Fake news:  There is nothing criminal about the sample ballot mailer.  Its purpose was to increase voter turnout, and inform and educate voters on election law changes, and allow them time to be informed about candidates on the ballot prior to Election Day.
  • Oleson said, “Some people have been disenfranchised from the vote”.  Fake news:  No proof exists that anyone has been disenfranchised. 
  • Oleson said, “Auditor Miller is personally, I mean he has never before personally collected the mail, and he’s going in and then personally collecting the mail, and then reviewing the allocation of votes on the sample ballots form, and then shredding them”.  Fake news and AN OUTRIGHT LIE:  I don’t touch the mail nor have I viewed any voted sample ballots or official ballots.  A team of Republican and Democrat election officials shred the sample ballots mistakenly returned to our office.
  • Oleson said, I bullied and stopped March for Our Lives students from registering voters. Fake news:  Students had set up a table to register voters within the confines of a polling place, i.e., within 300’ of the NewBo City Market satellite voting on 10/13/2018.  State law prohibits electioneering within 300’ and; unfortunately, someone told the students it was permissible to display photos of the Republican and Democratic candidates on the November 6th ballot along with information on those candidates.  Fortunately, no one who cared about the unfairness of this situation contacted my office to complain about the lack of Libertarian and other third-party candidates missing from the display photos and information.  I advised the students that they needed to display all of the candidates on the ballot or none of the candidates on the ballot.  The students rolled up the tablecloth and removed the entire display.  I told them, “I appreciated their efforts, but they needed to be fair to all candidates”; and they were not being fair.  Reminder:  Iowa ballots contain three major parties. 
  • Oleson said, “You are allowed to have forums within voting places”. Fake news from a fake lawyer:  The purpose of candidate forums is for candidates to answer questions and give their positions on issues.  As such, the candidates attending those forums are advocating for themselves or against their opponents – that is electioneering. 
  • Rogers said, no one has seen the letter sent to the voters who mistakenly returned their sample ballots. Fake news:  The letter was provided to Noah Tabor, Esq. – Voter Protection Director, Campaign for Iowa (Democratic Party), and to Deputy Iowa Secretary of State Ken Kline on 10/2/2018.
  • Rogers said, if we directed staff not to answer him, there would be a big stink.  Fake news:  Actually, the Board did direct its staff not to answer my questions regarding the Harris Building.  No stink – no news story. 
  • Walker said, “The Auditor had instructed the staff member to tell me to leave because of electioneering”. Fake news:  I never talked to my staff member about Stacey Walker being in the Library.  My staff member knows the law and the law states:  Loitering by candidates and others is prohibited in a polling place and the Cedar Rapids Public Library was a polling place.  Supervisor Walker appears to believe he is above the law.
  • Walker said, “The Commissioner of Elections is waltzing around this community acting as if he has the right to arrest people” and “telling citizens where they can and cannot be.”  Fake news:  I do not have the right to arrest anyone – that is law enforcement’s job.  I do not tell anyone where they can or cannot be.  I inform people what the law is and they decide what they should do.  The NAACP decided to relocate after being informed of the law.  In fact, Iowa State Senator Rob Hogg called me about the NAACP forum to ask if it complied with the law.  I told him that the NAACP had already decided to move.  

The Board spent about 22 minutes of their 26 minute meeting discussing the sample ballot mailing.  Imagine how long the meeting would have been if I had attended?

If I had attended the meeting, I have no doubt the meeting would have crossed the line from fact-finding to character assassination in seconds.  Even in my absence, my behavior was referred to as being “criminal” (Walker) and I was guilty of “malfeasance” (Oleson).  Those are not kind words to say about someone – that is electioneering.

Today’s meeting was a kangaroo court with Supervisor Rogers presiding, and Supervisors Walker and Oleson taking their turns at me.

The biggest disappointment is the ease with which Rogers, Walker, and Oleson spread fake news or outright lies, and this is but one 26 minute meeting.  Unfortunately, this is not the first time nor the last time they will spread fake news.

Thirteen days and counting.  Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

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