After I posted an item yesterday about California Congressman Gary Miller misrepresenting his military service, Miller’s office contacted several of the publications I cited to correct the record. Miller told a local paper that “he didn’t know how the incorrect information got out,” even though a number of the publications I cited — Congress.org and Project Vote Smart — use biographical information provided by the offices of elected officials.
Miller spent about seven weeks in boot camp in the fall of 1967, at which point he was discharged (due to the fact that he had ulcers at the age of ten, he now says). Yet the publications cited above and a number of others — like the official members’ guide to the California State Assembly, where Miller formerly held a seat — reported that he served in the military between 1967 and 1968.
As I noted in the item yesterday, Mount San Antonio Community College named Miller Alumnus of the Year in 2003. An item about his on its website — taken down after my story ran — read, “In 1967, Congressman Miller joined the United States Army and served his country during the Vietnam War.”
And Miller doesn’t know who the incorrect information got out? Who told the college that? And where did the California State Assembly get its information about Miller’s military career, if not from Miller himself?
The local paper also said in its story about Miller:
He said he never makes a big deal of his short military career. “I never bring up anything about it,” Miller said. “I did events all day yesterday (Memorial Day) and never mentioned (Army service),” he said. “I never ran a campaign saying I was in the Army. I never mention it at all. I don’t put out campaign literature … I don’t give speeches like that.”
That’s not quite right either. Miller became more tight-lipped about the subject a few years back, when he received queries about it from the media. And he was featured in “Once a soldier…Always a soldier,” a publication from the Association of the United States Army which highlights military veterans in Congress. “It has been a tremendous honor to have served in the U.S. Army,” Miller wrote in a comment that accompanied the section about him. “The American people owe their freedom and liberties to those who serve in the armed forces. They are indebted to those who have made the ultimate sacrifices for their country in previous world conflicts.”
Note: I mentioned in yesterday’s item that the American Legion website also listed Miller’s military career as spanning 1967 to 1968. I just received this email from Mark Seavey, New Media Manager at the Legion:
You cited The American Legion as a group that has Miller’s incorrect bio. Sort of…..that website is an outside vendor “Cap Wiz” that we use to handle our grassroots online lobbying. We don’t actually have any significant control over the bios etc. We are trying to get it rectified now, but “The American Legion” is only displaying the improper bio by proxy, we don’t tend to verify the bios on there as our lobbying shop is rather small.