A yearlong effort by the Utah Democratic Party to address complaints of sexual harassment involving a former party official may be for naught because they didn’t follow their own rules.
Utah Democrats have called an emergency Central Committee meeting for Thursday night to decide whether to move forward with action against former party Treasurer Rob Miller, who was accused of sexual harassment when he was running for party chairman in 2017. According to an email obtained by UtahPolicy.com, the party formed a special, and secret, judiciary committee to look into the allegations against Miller. That whole effort was supposed to culminate in a closed-door and confidential party trial against Miller this Saturday.
That trial may not happen now.
Five women who made the initial claims against Miller now say the judiciary committee may not have been formed in accordance with the party’s bylaws. That means the entire investigation, stretching back to late 2017, may be moot.
“TL;DR: Ya’ll screwed the pooch, and now nothing filed from 2017-2019 matters,” read the first line of the email that was sent to all members of the party’s Executive and Judicial Committees.
The email (which you can read below) details several “missteps, mistakes and abandonment of responsibility” by party Chair Daisy Thomas and the rest of the Executive Committee that possibly invalidated more than a year’s worth of work to build a case against Miller.
Miller was accused by several women of inappropriate behavior during his run for party chair in 2017. He dropped out of that race and resigned his membership in the party as part of the allegations against him. The party used the incident to revamp their sexual harassment rules.
Democratic sources tell UtahPolicy.com that Thomas did not participate in an emergency Executive Committee meeting that was called for earlier this week to discuss the mistakes made with the judicial committee and whether to move forward with Saturday’s trial. There are conflicting accounts of what went down during that meeting. Some say Thomas told the rest of the EC that they could not hold the meeting but they went ahead anyway, others say Thomas refused to participate and did not answer phone calls and texts during the meeting.
After the disputed emergency Executive Committee meeting on Tuesday, the rest of the Central Committee voted to call their own emergency meeting for Thursday night to chart a path forward with the case against Miller.
The five women who had leveled the harassment charges against Miller are demanding that the party halt any further efforts against Miller in light of the bureaucratic screw-up. From their email:
“The Chair and Executive Committee’s unending missteps, mistakes, and abandonment of responsibility has erased over a year’s worth of work that could have progressed the party forward, and has released all participants from the confidentiality the Executive Committee used to threaten complainants with.
“There is no transparency. There is only failure. Due to the actions and inactions of the Executive Committee, our options for proper resolution are severely limited. Following additional conversations with our legal counsel, we will seek further action. You will be notified.”
Miller referred UtahPolicy.com to his attorney, Rocky Anderson, for comment.
“There’s been no compliance with the party’s own policies, procedures and constitution from the beginning in this matter,” said Anderson. “Show me a complaint that meets the requirements of the party’s anti-harassment policies. This is fundamentally an abandonment of due process. Instead, it’s been exactly the opposite.”
Anderson pointed out that, since Miller resigned his membership in the party, the party’s own constitution says they no longer have jurisdiction over him. So, why would Miller agree to participate in a party trial if they don’t have any authority? Anderson was blunt in his reply.
“What they’ve done is despicable. We’re going to have at them,” he said. “I’m probably going to sue some people. Rob Miller likely would have won the election for party chair if these false claims had not been made against him. The individuals who have done so much damage to Mr. Miller and his family need to be held accountable.”
Anderson called the ongoing effort to smear Miller an outrageous political hit job.
“I’ve been involved in politics for a long time, and this is the dirtiest political trick I’ve ever seen,” he said.
Democratic party officials have not responded to a request for comment on this story.