Government

Miller backtracks on comparing himself with 'rape victim'

Linn County auditor has taken heat over saying rival broke election law

Joel Miller
Joel Miller

CEDAR RAPIDS — Linn County Auditor Joel Miller backpedaled Thursday after having compared himself with a rape victim over the flak he took after recently calling for the arrest of a former campaign rival.

In a Wednesday post to his blog, Miller referred to an incident last week in which he said he had the legal authority to order the arrest of former auditor candidate Joe Stutler on a voter misconduct charge.

In the post, Miller took aim at Linn County Attorney Jerry Vander Sanden — for not pursuing criminal charges against Stutler — and The Gazette’s Todd Dorman for an opinion column about the incident.

Miller argued that the county attorney’s opinion essentially allows any of Miller’s former political opponents to break the law.

However, it’s the last line in Miller’s post that was cause for backlash.

“Thanks for treating me like a rape victim fellas! I guess I must have invited Stutler’s behavior,” Miller wrote in the post, and which he submitted to The Gazette as a guest opinion.

Thursday, however, he amended the post and guest opinion to say “crime victim” instead.

“Today, a caller challenged me on a word I used in my closing paragraph. I agreed with her and changed the wording. My apologies to anyone I offended,” Miller added to the blog post.

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He said in an interview Thursday he had received two calls regarding the post — one of which came from a woman who said she was a sexual assault victim, which prompted him to change the wording.

“It was a poor choice of word on my part,” Miller said. “It was a bad comparison.”

Miller’s post stems to last week, when he issued an “order” to police to arrest Stutler, for taking an absentee ballot away from the polling boxes for early voting and filling it out next to the men’s restroom.

Stutler has said he just had to use the restroom, but Miller maintains Stutler knew what he was doing.

“It is a big deal, he purposely came in and did what he did. There’s no excuse for it,” Miller said.

Vander Sanden, who has say on whether to file charges, said he found no evidence that Stutler broke the law, and questioned Miller’s request to have a former rival arrested.

Miller said he plans to file a letter notifying Stutler that he had committed technical infractions Oct. 27. The notification doesn’t come with any penalties, he said.

Miller said he has hired a security guard to ensure ballots do not leave polling places at the Linn County Auditor’s Office for the remainder of early voting.

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