Utah political community responds after Salt Lake County GOP controversy, resignation

Utah State Capitol
Posted at 8:45 PM, Mar 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-29 01:06:20-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Following reports of alleged sexual harassment against women involved in local Republican party politics, the Salt Lake County GOP Chairman, Scott Miller, has resigned from his position.

In an email sent to county party leadership Sunday morning, which was shared with FOX 13, Miller said he had made a "mistake" in how he handled the allegations brought forth by seven republican women. He went on to say he was sorry and would be immediately stepping down from the county chair position.

Miller was quickly criticized Saturday after he sent an email to Salt Lake County GOP delegates attempting to discredit allegations of sexism and sexual harassment by Dave Robinson, the county GOP's unofficial communications director.

One of Robinson's accusers is Salt Lake County Council member Aimee Winder Newton. She posted a video to her YouTube account Sunday in response to Miller's resignation, in which she says he was complicit in allowing Robinson's behavior to go unchecked.

"We had our party chair who was enabling someone to take advantage of women in powerless situations where they were called terrible names and manipulated," Winder Newton said in the video. "I stood up for them last fall and paid a heavy price for the last six months I've been harassed and bullied as well."

State GOP Chairman Derek Brown issued a lengthy email Sunday morning addressing Miller's resignation. In it he calls Robinson's behavior "abhorrent" and calls out Miller's complicity in failing to address the issue when it was brought to his attention.

"Before ever speaking with the press, these women bravely raised their concerns with county party leadership, and nothing was done," the statement reads. "That is unacceptable."

Click here to read Brown's full statement.

The incident also brought to light allegations of sexual misconduct within the Utah Democratic Party from 2017. Sheryl Ginsberg, one of a handful of women who accused Rob Miller — the former candidate for state Democratic Party Chair in 2017 — of sexual harassment, said she commends GOP leadership for their response to Robinson and Miller's behavior.

"I was thrilled to see that Governor Cox and Lieutenant Governor Henderson came out right away and supported the women," she said.

Ginsberg said she wishes the Democratic party would have done the same when she brought her story forward in 2017.

"For all of us, we totally support the republican women, and we stand with them, and I would've liked to have seen that happen for us," she added.

State Democratic Party leadership confirmed with FOX 13 that the party has still not investigated the claims of sexual misconduct by Rob Miller in 2017. The UDP communication's director, Joshua Rush, sent a statement to FOX 13 Sunday that reads,

"UDP members take harassment seriously. We've adjusted our rules as necessary to ensure that women are protected. Our party has made changes to nip this in the bud, and we hope the Republicans do too. No woman should feel unsafe running for office, being involved in party politics, or volunteering."

The statement echoes what top GOP leadership said Saturday in response to the incident. Governor Cox and Lt. Governor Henderson issued a joint statement saying they will not tolerate the behavior and, "will not tolerate it, ignore it, or explain it away."

The Salt Lake County GOP is scheduled to have their 2021 organizing convention on April 10.