More Trouble for Joe Miller: East Germany and Ethics

With all the hullabaloo surrounding Joe Miller's citizens' arrest of a journalist attempting to interview him at a town hall this weekend, the substance of Miller's appearance at said town hall flew pretty much under the radar. Which is why it wasn't until today that we realized that Miller had held up an unusual model for border security: East Germany.

Asked about illegal immigration, Politico reports, Miller replied:

The first thing that has to be done is secure the border. . .  East Germany was very, very able to reduce the flow.  Now, obviously, other things were involved.  We have the capacity to, as a great nation, secure the border.  If East Germany could, we could.

This statement is confusing on multiple levels. First, pro-market Tea Partier Joe Miller really wants to promote the policies of an oppressive Communist state? This choice could be dismissed if the argument made rhetorical sense, but it doesn't--the Berlin wall served to keep people in, not out. As far as I'm aware, East Germany did not really have a problem with immigrants gravitating to its economic opportunities.

"It's not an analogous situation," said Ira Mehlman, national media director at Federation for American Immigration Reform, an immigration reduction organization. "We have always supported structures on the border to secure people ... but you have to provide deterrence, you have to give people reasons to not come across in the first place." A better example of an effective border barrier, Mehlman suggested, might be Israel's fence, erected to keep terrorists from entering the country. 

Miller's woes don't end with the Berlin Wall. The unlucky reporter who found himself handcuffed after Miller's town hall had been questioning the candidate about accusations of ethical indiscretions while Miller was working as an attorney at the Fairbanks North Star Borough.

Miller's campaign had been battling with Alaskan media over the story for weeks. But yesterday, on CNN, Miller finally admitted to having been disciplined for using borough computers to perform political polling.

"I'll admit I'm a man of many flaws," Miller told John King. "I'm not going to sit back and say that I've conducted my life perfectly. I will tell you that anything that I've done that's not right, it's been accounted for and it's been taken care of and I move on and I learn from mistakes."

According to the Anchorage Daily News:

Former Fairbanks North Star Borough Mayor Jim Whitaker, who was Miller's boss, said last week that Miller used borough computers for political purposes in 2008 when he organized a failed effort to oust state Republican Party Chairman Randy Ruedrich. Whitaker said Miller was disciplined for the violation of the borough's ethics code but was not fired because he was part of a legal team that was in the middle of a case over how much to tax the trans-Alaska oil pipeline.

Ironically, Ruedrich, the man Miller was attempting to oust, was investigated several years earlier by Sarah Palin (and later fined) for using state computers to engage in political activities while on the clock as a member of the state's Oil and Gas Commission.    

Miller has had a rough few days, publicity-wise, but as I pointed out yesterday, his chances may ride on whether or not Tea Party Express launches a last-minute surge on his behalf right before the election, as it did leading up to the August primary.

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Nicole Allan is a former senior editor at The Atlantic.

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