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Rob Miller’s ethical shortcuts don’t jibe with his ethics plan

How can liberal Democrat propose ethics reform when
he doesn’t honor the spirit of the existing rules?

(Columbia, SC – August 30, 2010) Second Congressional district hopeful Rob Miller tries to position himself as a champion of ethics reform. He has proposed a package that his campaign website claims will “restore faith in government.” But it’s hard to believe the liberal Democrat is attempting to campaign on “restoring faith” when he has disregarded House ethics rules right out of the gate.

The Ethics in Government Act of 1978 requires all House candidates to file a Personal Financial Disclosure Statement. Among other things, candidates must report any liabilities, such as debt from a line of credit, they may have. They are also given the option of identifying all co-owners of property they own.

In May 2006, Rob Miller and his brother Gardner Miller purchased two properties in Charleston: one at 119 Coming Street for $710,000, and another at 1 Poulnot Lane for $706,500. That same month, they also received a line of credit for $70,650 for the Poulnot Lane property from Regions Bank in Charleston. [This is according to the Charleston County office of Register Mesne Conveyance, as posted on Charleston County’s official website,] This credit line was not reported on any of candidate Miller’s financial statements filed in 2008, 2009, 2010.

While there is no evidence that Miller has drawn on this credit line, $70,605 is readily available to him any time he chooses to take it.

Not being forthcoming about this line of credit is a troubling omission. It reveals more than simply to whom a candidate may one day be indebted, and how much he would owe. It tells the public which businesses a candidate would be beholden to after the election. It also reveals he has an additional $70,650 at his disposal which could be used to fund the Rob Miller for Congress campaign. This is not in keeping with a candidate who says he wants to “restore faith in government.” Rob Miller has consistently avoided making this credit line public knowledge in the spirit of full openness and complete transparency. Why is this? He owes the people of the Second Congressional district an explanation.

But there is more.

Miller also chose to not disclose that his brother was a part owner of the homes located at both 119 Coming Street and 1 Poulnot Lane. This was not disclose don Miller’s campaign statements filed in 2008, 2009 and 2010. According to the Charleston County tax assessor’s office, the yearly property tax bills for 2007 were sent to an address in Brooklyn, New York.

The lack of full disclosure of Miller’s co-ownership of the Charleston properties is equally troubling. The Personal Financial Disclosure Statement says: “If you so choose, you may indicate that an asset or income source is… jointly held in the column on the far left” (side of the form). Rob Miller clearly chose not to indicate that he co-owned two expensive houses with his brother.

Not making that disclosure was especially egregious because Gardner Miller was a significant financial contributor to his brother Rob’s 2008 congressional campaign. Gardner Miller donated the maximum of $4,600 ($2,300 in the Democrat primary and another $2,300 for the general election). He also donated another $10,000 that year to the South Carolina Democratic Party.

Rob Miller was given a choice, and he opted against honoring the spirit of the House rules by not practicing full and open disclosure.

Failure to disclose this information shows a cavalier attitude toward ethics rules. It is especially noteworthy coming from a candidate who professes to make “ethics reform” a major portion of his campaign platform.

Rob Miller’s website says: “Keeping Washington honest will be one of Rob’s highest priorities as a member of Congress….”

In Rob Miller’s case, honesty needs to start with himself. He must make his own campaign honest before he worries about keeping Washington, or anyone else, fully open and completely honest.