SALT LAKE CITY — Several women linked to Utah's Democratic Party have leveled sexual misconduct allegations against a candidate for party chairman.
In a May 24 letter to the party’s executive committee, the women accuse Rob Miller of several incidents of “unwanted and inappropriate” sexual conduct, including kissing women on the lips without their consent, grabbing a woman’s buttocks, hugging a female colleague tightly without permission and pulling his pants down to show his undergarments.
“Such conduct is unbecoming of party leadership and inappropriate for any person who seeks a position of power over others,” according to the letter posted at UtahPolicy.com. “It also raises the spectrum of potential future sexual harassment claims if such conduct continues.”
Miller, who served on the executive committee for eight years and was twice elected as vice chairman, denies any wrongdoing. He believes the letter was politically motivated, he said Thursday evening, noting it was sent about three weeks before his party's state convention on June 17.
"I did not commit sexual harassment," Miller said. He was a party leader from 2005 to 2013 without any such claims against him, he said.
The group that sent the letter included former party officers and state legislative candidates, former delegates and volunteers, and a Democratic legislative staffer. They are Mary Brady-Bishop, Jennifer Miller-Smith, Celina Milner, Sheryl Ginsberg, Elizabeth Converse, Jill Haring and Ellen Brady, according to UtahPolicy.com.
"There's only one truth in that letter," Miller said Thursday. He acknowledges he told one woman he was interested in going on a date with her after they discussed over coffee creating a website with information on political candidates.
Miller denies repeatedly asking her out and telling her he would treat her "like a queen" and "feed her lobster every night," as alleged in the letter.
Dan Spencer, the group's attorney, said the document was never intended to become public. The women submitted it to party leaders and don't know who leaked it, Spencer said.
"It's really important to note this did not come out of any campaign," Spencer said. "It came from individuals in the party who were concerned." The letter's timing would have come into question even if it were sent months ago, he said.
Spencer was brought on to help the group navigate the complaint process, he said. He declined to say if any of the senders were intending to bring harassment claims in court.
Utah Democratic Party Chairman Peter Corroon said in a text message that "Democrats are fully committed to providing a safe environment for all."
Miller, who also served as Davis County Democratic Party chairman, is among five men and four women vying to lead Utah Democrats.
Contributing: Annie Knox