Republican Senate candidate Joe Miller is accusing Lt. Gov. Craig Campbell, picked for the job by Sarah Palin, of being biased against him before the upcoming count of write-in ballots next week.
Miller is backed by the tea party but is facing a write-in candidacy from incumbent Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski. He told sympathetic bloggers on a teleconference Thursday that Campbell's appointment to a previous job, commissioner of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs by former Gov. Frank Murkowski, and his praising of Murkowski at a time when he was unpopular were evidence of bias.
Now, Campbell, as lieutenant governor, will be overseeing the Division of Elections' count of write-in ballots next week, Miller said.
"It appears that his bias is playing out in the decision he's making, especially those that are directly contrary to law," Miller was quoted as saying.
Miller's comments to the bloggers were first reported by Politics Daily.com.
Randy DeSoto, spokesman for the Miller campaign, declined to confirm or deny Miller had made the allegations.
"We have two goals. To make sure the election is fair and that every valid vote is counted," DeSoto said in a statement issued by the campaign.
A spokesperson for Campbell denounced the charge of bias, and said she was "extremely disappointed" with Miller's allegations.
"It is completely unacceptable for Mr. Miller or anyone involved in the process were we're in right now to call into question the lieutenant's character," Renee Limoge said.
She said the Division of Elections and the lieutenant governor's office are working closely with the Department of Law on all aspects of the write-in count procedure.
Limoge said the office's staff was "shocked" to read Miller's claims of bias.
Elections officials had originally said that write-in votes for Miller, if there are any, would not be counted. After he complained, they reversed course and said those votes would be counted.
State law says that write-in votes can only be counted for candidates who have filed a written declaration of write-in candidacy prior to the election.
"To provide clarity on the issue of write-in votes for U.S. Senate candidate Joe Miller, if the write-in votes are cast properly, they will be counted," Campbell said in a statement issued Thursday.
He said the change was vetted through the Alaska Department of Law.
Campbell was first appointed by then-Gov. Frank Murkowski at the adjutant general in command of the Alaska National Guard, as well as commissioner of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. He was promoted to lieutenant general by then-Gov. Sarah Palin in 2008.
Upon Palin's announcement she was resigning in 2009, she also named Campbell as the new lieutenant governor. The legislature had already confirmed a different commissioner to be next-in-line to become lieutenant governor, so Campbell was considered to be the "acting lieutenant governor" until he could be confirmed in a special session of the Legislature.
Campbell withdrew from the election for the position, and will be replaced as lieutenant governor by Mead Treadwell later this year.
Attorney General Dan Sullivan, who heads the Department of Law, was also appointed by Palin.
Contact reporter Pat Forgey at 523-2250 or patrick.forgey@ juneauempire.com.
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