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The Dubious Integrity of Alice P. Miller and the Elections Assistance Commission

Introduction

On May 9, 2008, the Elections Assistance Commission (EAC) announced the appointment of Ms. Alice P. Miller as its Chief Operating Officer (COO).

This document constitutes a review of a redacted report of the DC Office of the Inspector General's (OIG) investigation (www.DcWatch.com/govern/ig030522.htm) into the unethical behavior of, among others, Ms. Alice P. Miller, when she was Executive Director of the DC Board of Elections and Ethics. The report outlines active collusion in a scheme to obtain for herself and a colleague $12,000 pay raises, and to collect $22,000 in back pay, each. In order to do this, she drafted two memorandums that falsely claimed that the pay raises were authorized and legal - the day after the changes in their job classification and pay had been improperly entered into a computerized payroll system.

Not included in this review are additional charges against Ms. Miller of illegal contract splitting, possible whistleblower retaliation, and possible stonewalling of investigations by the OIG and FBI.

Unless otherwise stated, all information, quotes, and references to footnotes and exhibits in this document come from the OIG report.

Election Integrity

Some are claiming that this investigation was a political smear. That Ms. Miller drafted two false memos to get those salaries is not political. It is fact. That the salaries of at least one public executive is much higher than the law allows, is well grounded legal opinion as outlined below. That Ms. Miller was actively involved in a conspiracy to unilaterally grant herself and a colleague raises outside of legal procedures is clear, regardless of any interagency political fights.

Maybe this is normal behavior inside the Beltway. Out here, it is not. At least in California, when they caught another registrar with his hand in the public till, they threw him in jail.

Old fashioned integrity is at the heart of how elections work. Ms. Miller should not be serving as an Elections Director, much less as the COO of America's Election Assistance Commission.

Action

I hereby request Congress to hold hearings immediately to investigate (1) the case as outlined in the Inspector General's report and in this document, and (2) how and why Ms. Miller was hired to work as COO for the EAC. Business as usual in the EAC is not acceptable when the stakes are so high.

I also suggest that citizens click here to tell Congress that it needs to hold hearings on the hiring of Alice P, Miller by the Election Assistance Commission.


People

  1. Board of Elections and Ethics (BoEE)

    • Mr. Benjamin F. Wilson : Chairman

    • Ms. Alice P. Miller : Executive Director and Board Member, employment classification : Series 301 "Excepted Service", law degree

    • Mr. Marvin Ford : Chief of Staff, no college degree

    • Mr. Kenneth McGhie : General Counsel, law degree

  2. Ms. Cecily Collier-Montgomery : director, DC Office of Campaign Finance (OCF), employment classification : Series 301 "Excepted Service", law degree

  3. Ms. Vialetta Graham : Comprehensive Automated Payroll and Personnel Systems (CAPPS) Coordinator, Assistant Program Director, Office of the Chief Financial Officer (OCFO) Enterprise Office, no college degree


Timeline

  1. October 1, 1999
    DC government attorneys become eligible for a new employment classification, Series 905 "Legal Services". This is for attorneys working as attorneys, not directors, for the DC government ( DC Code § 1-608.51, D.C. Law 12-260 )

  2. Early 2000
    The position of Mr. Kenneth McGhie is appropriately reclassified into "Legal Services", and he thereby recieves a pay raise of $11,891, from $109,515 to $121,406. The pay raise is made retroactive.

  3. June/July 2000
    Ms. Miller and Ms. Collier-Montgomery seek pay increases, apparently claiming that there had been "historical" parity with the General Counsel's pay, and pointing out that they were attorneys.

    Ms. Miller's salary is governed by D.C. Code § 1-611.16 and § 1-1001.05(e)(1), which might not allow for higher pay in her case.

    Ms. Collier-Montgomery's classification is explicitly limited by law to "Excepted Service" ( D.C. Code § 1-609.08, § 1-1103.01(a) )

    The pay increases do not happen.

  4. June, 2000
    Ms. Miller awards Mr. Ford a $10,000 bonus, which allegedly exceeds DC's bonus limit of 10%.

  5. August 1, 2001
    Ms. Miller awards Mr. Ford a $7,500 bonus, which allegedly exceeds DC's bonus limit of 10%.

  6. August 20, 2001
    "Ford, at the direction of Miller, entered information into the District's CAPPS [payroll system] to change Miller's employment classification from Excepted Service to Legal Service and increase her salary from $109,515 to $121,406. See Exhibit G. [a printout of the CAPPS change register]". That's an $11,891 pay raise.

  7. August 21, 2001
    Ms. Miller drafts a memo from Ms. Graham to Mr. Wilson (Exhibit E) on OCFO stationary. Ms. Graham had neither the background nor the authority to sign this memo - she does not work directly in personnel. "Miller misrepresented that Graham worked in 'Payroll and Retirement,' ". The memo claims incorrectly that pay grade 16 employees can receive a salary of up to $121,406, omitting the fact that this only applies as a bonus to employees working as attorneys. It also claims that the pay raises for such employees may be retroactive. The DPM regulations do not allow this {Chapter 11B, Subpart 2, § 2.15( J)(1)). Ms. Graham signs the memo.

  8. August 27, 2001
    "Ford obtained the assistance of Graham to effectuate Collier-Montgomery's [$11,891] pay raise on August 27, 2001. See Exhibit H." Graham informed the OIG that "When he [Ford] brought me the memo, I told him I don't make salary changes." This time she did.

  9. August 28, 2001
    Ms. Miller drafts a memo from Mr. Wilson to Ms. Graham (Exhibit F) requesting that she adjust the salaries of Ms. Miller and Ms. Collier-Montgomery. In citing statuatory provisions, the memo replaces with ellipses pertinent parts of the statues that would impede these raises.

  10. September, 2001
    "Ford drafted a Form 52 sometime in September 2001 for Miller's pay raise, but failed to obtain Wilson's signature to authorize the personnel action [pay raises]. See Exhibit I." Similar to any official personnel document, a Form 52 must possess the appropriate signature of authority in order to be executable. No Form 52 was ever prepared in support of Collier-Montgomery's pay raise.

  11. In or about October 2001
    "Ford prepared and submitted two District Supplemental Adjustment Forms for retroactive payments for Miller and Collier-Montgomery to the District's payroll office. This action was supported by the August 21, 2001, memorandum from Graham to Wilson outlining the District's authorization for the issuance of retroactive pay. See Exhibit E." The retroactive pay will be worth $22,000 to each director.

  12. December 4, 2001
    Ms. Miller hires Ms. Graham as the BoEE's Information Technology Manager.

  13. February 2, 2002
    Ms. Miller appoints Ms. Graham as BoEE's and OCF's Chief Technology Officer. This posting was never advertised, nor competed for, in violation of regulations.

  14. April 4, 2003
    The OIG starts an investigation into charges of a pay grade scheme.

  15. April 22, 2003
    "the United States Attorney decided against a criminal prosecution regarding the scheme by Collier-Montgomery and Miller to obtain improper salary increases and back pay."

  16. Section 3 of the report details an extensive effort to stonewall IG and FBI investigations.


Legal Issues

  1. Whether the salary raises were legal or not is something of a side issue. The real problem is that, in effect, Ms. Miller unilaterally gave herself and a colleague $12,000 raises, and used fraud to do so. Nevertheless, I shall examine the legality of a raise for Ms. Collier-Montgomery because it is more clear-cut, and sufficient to make a point about Ms. Miller's integrity. In order to do so, we have to cut through the Beltway spin.

  2. "D.C. Code § 1-1103.01(a)1 states "the Director of the Office of Campaign Finance shall be entitled to receive compensation at the maximum rate for Grade 16 for the District Schedule pursuant to subchapter XI of Chapter 6 of this title."

    1. "when Collier-Montgomery was interviewed by the OIG on April 26, 2002, she ... confirmed that 'I should be paid in the Excepted Service at the highest level of a grade 16.' ".

    2. "Soon after the interview, Wilson informed the OIG that Miller and Collier-Montgomery were put in the Legal Service by mistake." This is an admission that the August, 2001 pay raises were improper.

    3. If the raises were legal and authorized, it should not have been necessary after a year's time to draft two false memos and to dodge standard procedures to obtain them.

    4. If it were clear that the law allowed a raise for Ms, Collier-Montgomery, Mr. McGhie would not have needed to propose relevant legislation in early August 2000 and in May 2002. The proposals did not pass.

  3. The DC General Counsel claims that "the OCF Director is 'entitled to receive compensation at the maximum rate for Grade 16 of the District Schedule' is a floor, not a ceiling, is a reasonable one. (Opinion at 1)" - www.DcWatch.com/govern/ig030528.htm

    This "floor" interpretation is clearly not reasonable :

    1. If you are trying to establish a floor for a salary, you do not cite the maximum salary for a pay grade. Instead you cite the minimum.

    2. In the absence of other statements, it is reasonable to assume that "maximum" applies both to the compensation, and the rate for the pay grade mentioned.

    3. If the "floor" interpretation were valid, then why did Mr. McGhie propose new legislation in May of 2002?

  4. The BoEE claims that it had "the legal authority to grant the raises in question to Ms. Miller and Ms. Collier-Montgomery" (www.DcWatch.com/govern/boee030528.htm). Yet there seems to be a difference between authority and statutory permission :

    1. "McGhie informed the Board that ... Collier-Montgomery could not receive an increase in salary due to statutory constraints".

    2. "In an interview with the OIG, McGhie recalled that after Miller and Collier-Montgomery first presented the subject of their pay raises to the Board in June or July 2000, he researched the issue and discovered that the Board had the authority to raise Miller's salary, but that Collier-Montgomery needed statutory permission."

  5. A United States Attorney seemed to concur with the general conclusions of the OIG : "we nevertheless share your concern about the secretive and irregular manner in which these salary payments were obtained and the questionable legal basis for them." - www.DcWatch.com/govern/ig030522c.htm


Facts

  1. The basic facts are not contested :

    "the Board has long recognized that procedural and clerical errors occurred in the processing of the salary adjustments for Ms. Alice P. Miller and Ms. Cecily E. Collier-Montgomery in August 2001" - www.DcWatch.com/govern/boee030528.htm

  2. These are not procedural "errors" nor "mistakes". The IG report states that :

    1. The two memos were each dated the day after the salaries were changed.

    2. Form 52 is normally needed before salaries are changed. Form 52 was drafted later on for Miller, but not completed. There was no Form 52 for Ms. Collier-Montgomery.

    3. "the appropriate person within OCF who should have effectuated the salary change for Collier-Montgomery - the Chief of Staff - was left out of this process"

    4. "Graham informed the OIG that 'When he [Ford] brought me the memo, I told him I don't make salary changes.' ". Yet it was Graham that made the change on August 27, 2001.

    5. Ms. Miller drafted two memos containing significant omissions and misrepresentations :

      "Employees misled Chairman Wilson. In order to convince Chairman Wilson that the pay raises were permissible (both prospectively and retroactively), the Executive Director of BOEE [Ms.Miller], who herself was a beneficiary, drafted two deceptive memoranda for Wilson's review. The memoranda were deceptive in the following ways: a purported author of one memorandum had no authority to approve District personnel matters; one memorandum omits reference to facts that would have indicated that the salary increases were inappropriate; one memorandum asserts facts about government policy that are incorrect; and the BOEE Director gave Wilson the impression that a certain employee was authorized to approve the salary increase when the employee had no authority to approve said increase." - www.DcWatch.com/govern/ig030522b.htm [See also the timeline above]

    There is a fraudulent pattern here of deliberate efforts by Ms. Miller and others to cheat the system.

  3. Ms. Miller wrote the two deceptive memos :

    "During the execution of the search warrants, the OIG seized a floppy computer disk from Miller's office desk drawer, which contained both documents [memos]. The United States Secret Service conducted a subsequent forensic computer analysis of the disk, which confirmed that each document was created by Miller on her government computer." - Footnote 2 to the OIG report


Acknowledgements

The author would like to thank the DC OIG for their report, DcWatch.com for posting the material, and Paddy Shaffer, Sheri Meyers, John Gideon, Michelle Gabriel, Stephen Caruso, BlackBoxVoting.org, and BradBlog.com for their contributions to this project.




Nobody, and no machine, should be counting votes in secret.

For further information, email Jim Soper at : JimSoper2@yahoo.com
CountedAsCast.com/usa/alicemiller_boee.php
October 7, 08

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