Controversial Salt Lake County District Attorney Lohra Miller formally announced her intent to seek re-election to another four-year term on March 5th, 2010. She will join two other candidates, Greg Skordas and former DA Sim Gill, in the race. Media stories published by KSL Channel 5; since this post was published, the Salt Lake Tribune has now run a story. KSL news video embedded below:
According to her official campaign website, Miller first ran in 2006 because she thought district attorney policies were insufficiently responsive to the needs of crime victims. She claims to have worked with prosecutors, courts, community leaders, and law enforcement to drastically improve the prosecution of domestic violence, DUI, automobile homicide, murder, elder abuse, and juvenile crimes. But Miller thinks there's more to be done, and she wants to accomplish a more comprehensive revision of the entire criminal justice process in Salt Lake County.
One word Lohra Miller uses to describe herself is "outspoken". Not only is that an understatement, but her matriarchal style has alienated much of the community. Too frequently she shoots from the hip and fails to adequately consider the political ramifications of her actions. In March 2008, after accusing prosecutor Kent Morgan of leaking information to one of his friends under investigation, Lohra Miller fired Morgan. This was in association with the famous "Doll House" case. Morgan contested the firing, and in September 2009, a civil service panel ordered Miller to make Morgan a felony prosecutor again. In March 2008, a four-page Salt Lake City Weekly article entitled "Illegally Blonde: City Weekly March 2008 Feature On Lohra Miller" chronicled allegations of underage drinking parties at Miller's South Jordan cul-de-sac home and reported problems associated with them.
The D.J. Bell case became another lightning rod, as Lohra Miller chose to prosecute Bell for child kidnapping after as many as five people invaded his home and nearly beat Bell and his housemate, Dan Fair, to death on July 4th, 2008. Bell was acquitted by a jury in near-record time. However, this has since been mitigated by Miller's recent decision to proceed with the prosecution of those whose assaulted Bell and Fair; this decision, delayed as it was, may permit Miller to repair her tattered credibility somewhat. Thus Miller has picked up endorsements from Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff and Ed Smart, the father of former kidnap victim Elizabeth Smart.
Two Democrats are running against Miller. Greg Skordas was first to declare on January 8th; Skordas has practiced law in Utah for 25 years, including eight years in the Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office. According to his official campaign website, Skordas has watched the relationship between the DA's office and police officers deteriorate. He has watched talented, motivated young prosecutors quit their jobs. He has watched veteran prosecutors pushed out of the courtroom where they are needed. He has watched the resources of the DA's office be mismanaged. He's tired of the drama and is ready to take the lead and fix the DA's office. Skordas also has a Facebook page HERE.
The other more recent Democratic entrant is former D.A. Sim Gill, who was defeated by Lohra Miller in 2006. According to his official campaign website, Gill is digusted with the parade of scandals, personal issues and vendettas have distracted Lohra Miller from doing her job for far too long – costing taxpayers serious cash. His threefold mission if elected will be to restore the public trust, conserve tax dollars, and to hold criminals accountable and give victims justice. Gill also has a Facebook page HERE, and has picked up an "attaboy" from former prosecutor Joshua Baron.
But first, Skordas and Gill must joust to see which will get the Democratic nomination and the right to confront Miller one-on-one. Skordas can point to the fact that Miller beat Gill in order to boost his own campaign, but Gill can counter that he is the former District Attorney. So at this point, Gill may have a slight edge. The Tribune indicates that Gill wasted little time launching into campaign mode; after Miller's announcement, Gill criticized her for declaring her candidacy at the Children's Justice Center, which is operated by government but receives some funding through a nonprofit. Federal law bars nonprofits from participating in activities to support or oppose political candidates. Gill called Miller's choice of venue "unethical" and said it is one more reason why voters need to restore "honesty" and "integrity" to the office. "She just introduced politics at a nonprofit, nonpartisan entity," he said. "She just put in jeopardy its nonprofit status for political purposes." In response, Miller's campaign insisted it received permission to use the facility and that the venue was appropriate. "We find it unfortunate that Mr. Gill would not focus on the critical issues facing Salt Lake County," responded D.A. spokesman Mark Biljanic.
I agree with Biljanic. That seems a rather petty issue, and Gill needs to find something better to campaign with. This is why I think Greg Skordas may be a better candidate against Lohra Miller.