Auditor apologizes after making 'rape victim' comparison

Published: Nov. 3, 2016 at 11:01 PM CDT
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"Thanks for treating me like a rape victim…"

That's what Linn County Auditor Joel Miller posted on his online blog, Wednesday. Miller wrote that comment after taking criticism for alleging that his former opponent in last June's primary recently broke the law while voting.

He's since apologized and changed "rape victim" to "crime victim".

Miller posted on his blog: "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."

In an interview with TV-9, the auditor said he made a "bad word choice".

"There's a stereotype that victims of rape report the crime and then become victimized," said Miller. "That was the relationship that I was making."

Miller made the comparison online after trying to get a former political rival and fellow Democrat, Joe Stutler, arrested for alleged election misconduct. In his post, the auditor calls out the county attorney-- who declined to pursue charges and a local columnist for a negative opinion of the move.

"I was called by the code to do a duty,” said Miller. "Instead of being backed up-- I was ridiculed."

This all started late last month. Stutler was voting early at the auditor's office. He grabbed a ballot, then left the polling place. You can see Stutler in security footage walking away with it-- then filling it out by the men's room. At some point he even takes a picture with the ballot.

Miller said it was a violation of Iowa Code.

"You can't tolerate that,” said Miller. “We have to account for every vote, every ballot."

Miller is cities state law, that says when voting early at the commissioner's office a “registered voter shall immediately mark the ballot” then return it.

The county attorney, Jerry Vander Sanden, disagrees with Miller's interpretation of the law. He said he doesn't think a violation took place and won't pursue charges. Vander Sanden also believes the law forbids the auditor from calling for arrests, unless it's Election Day and a polling place becomes rowdy.

"The county attorney thinks like I do,” said Stutler. “This is, you know, hogwash."

Stutler told TV-9 he believes Miller is still sore over a tough primary race, that the misconduct allegations are a personal attack. Stutler said he was just going to the bathroom.

"Those little urges come and they go. By the time I got down there, it had passed,” said Stutler. "The joys of getting older and having a bit of diabetes."

Miller said he would have made the allegations against anyone. And to ensure it won't happen again, he's added a security guard to keep ballots at the auditor’s office where they should be.