- Associated Press - Monday, June 15, 2015

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Utah House Democrats have called for Rep. Justin J. Miller to step down due to accusations that he mishandled tens of thousands of dollars while running the county mayor’s campaign.

Rep. Brian King, House Democratic leader, said Monday during a news conference at the state Capitol that Miller has asked them to wait for the criminal investigation of the allegations to play out. Although authorities have opened a criminal investigation to review the allegations, House Democrats said there are no plans to order a review by the ethics committee because he wasn’t an elected official at the time and he hasn’t been charged with a crime.

Miller said in a statement Monday that it’s unfortunate the Democrats rushed to judgment. He said he will talk with his family in the coming days before making a decision.

“He would like us to wait to see how the criminal investigation will play out,” King said. “We just aren’t comfortable doing that at this point.”

Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams said he discovered last summer that Miller was using money from the mayor’s 2012 campaign account to rent office space for his private political consulting firm.

Miller was later fired, and then elected to the Utah House of Representatives.

King said the ordeal has been such a distraction that it has impacted Miller’s colleagues’ ability to do their jobs.

“We’re not saying Justin Miller is guilty or that we think he’s guilty,” King said. “What I do know is this, when … there’s something that has the prospect of preventing you, as a public official, from doing your job that is unending in terms of its future and that creates a problem for your colleagues from doing their job, at that point I think it’s fair for your colleagues to come to you and say resign. That’s our feeling that we’ve reached that point.”

King said the House Democrats have been in the process of gathering information since the incident was first reported, including talking to Miller, lawyers and others. He said action wasn’t appropriate until now.

“We’re trying to do the best thing for the people of the state of Utah,” King said. “That means … acting promptly when information is available and sufficient to justify acting. While at the same time not acting in a premature way. We think we’ve struck the right balance.

“We want to make sure this doesn’t continue to undermine the credibility of elected officials here at the legislature from constituents.”

King said there options if Miller refuses to resign, though he declined to explain what those are. The decision to request Miller to resign was a unanimous decision by the rest of the caucus, according to King.

“He’s not persona non grata, he’s an elected Democratic official,” King said. “It’s difficult, though, in light of the feeling on the part of the other members of the caucus, to welcome him with open arms. Its’ an action that sends a clear message when we as caucus members ask him to resign.”

Utah Democratic Party chairman Peter Corroon released a statement Monday afternoon calling on Miller to either publicize information exonerating him or step down.

“His constituents and the people of Utah deserve to know the reality of this situation,” Corroon said in the statement.

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