Salt Lake County GOP chairman resigns amid criticism

Scott Miller had been accused of dismissing complaints from women who said the party’s communications director had harassed and bullied them.

Salt Lake County GOP Chairman Scott Miller has stepped down after coming under fire for dismissing complaints from women in the party regarding an environment they describe as toxic.

In an email sent to his executive committee members early Sunday, he apologized for “how I handled the complaints lodged by Republican women and my recent communications. I’m sorry.” Read the full email below.

More than half a dozen Republican women have come forward to accuse Salt Lake County Republican Party communications director Dave Robinson of harassment, body-shaming and other inappropriate behavior. Miller has been unwavering in his support of Robinson and questioned the motives of the accusers as recently as Friday.

“I am relieved and ready to move forward,” said Aimee Winder Newton, a Republican member of the Salt Lake County Council and a subject of disparaging nicknames and accusations from both Robinson and Miller.

“I expect the SLCo GOP will put some new bylaws and policies in place to ensure something like this never happens again,” Newton said. “One way to ensure the bad actors are never there to begin with is to have more people get involved. We need people to show up to their party caucuses, to run for delegate and help get good people elected.”

Erin Preston, a former candidate for county recorder, said Robinson tried to use her campaign as a vehicle for his own pet issues and said inappropriate things about her body. In a statement to The Salt Lake Tribune, she said she believed Miller only resigned because of pressure from party officials, who are “now realizing the extent of Dave Robinson’s behavior, and Scott’s role in repeatedly enabling that behavior with or without their knowledge.”

“I hope this comes as a wake-up call for the party to guard against such behavior in the future by any officials,” Preston said. “I also hope this leads to an increased focus on the need to support women — as future candidates, elected officials and leaders whose voices have value and should be heard.”

Miller, who’s running for the state Republican chair in the wake of current chair Derek Brown’s recent announcement that he would not seek a second term, was dismissive about the allegations in an interview with The Tribune on Thursday. “So apparently you’re interested in the internal squabbling of our party,” Miller said. “It’s squabbling — that’s what it is.”

In response to the complaints, Miller sent out a scathing rebuke on the county party’s official email late Friday naming all of the women coming forward and questioning the true motivation behind what he described as “these salacious accusations.”

“Are these persons and possibly their special interest backers attempting to embarrass and cancel me and our volunteers?” Miller asked in part. “I will not be CANCELLED.”

However, the email drew intense backlash, and resulted in Republican representatives from around the state, including Gov. Spencer Cox, issuing a statements rebuking Miller and calling for his resignation.

“Scott Miller wasn’t canceled,” Newton said. “He was held accountable.”

Abby Evans, a political consultant who previously worked for the county party under Miller, said she hopes the party learns from the “damage” Robinson caused.

“After watching Scott Miller hotly defend, enable, and give Party resources over to harassment, dishonesty and abuse throughout his term, it’s a relief to see him resign,” Evans said.

Miller told The Tribune that Evans’ allegations were from a “woman scorned” because the party had decided to terminate her position to cut costs. She currently works as a policy adviser for County Council member Laurie Stringham, who also came forward with allegations of vulgar language and harassment by Robinson during her campaign for office.

“Scott’s resignation doesn’t solve the problem. It just takes a tool away from Dave Robinson,” Stringham said in a statement. “There are many out there who are complicit and many more who have been and will be hurt if this type of behavior isn’t stopped.”

Shortly after The Tribune’s story about several women’s experiences was published Saturday afternoon, Miller issued another statement with a starkly different tone.

“I applaud these women for coming forward and I have encouraged any accusers to come forward,” he said. “I take these allegations seriously.”

But members of the party’s executive committee said leadership has been aware of Robinson’s behavior for years and took no action.

“In 2018, I was a member of the Salt Lake County Republican Party Executive Committee and was present when concerns regarding Mr. Robinson were brought up,” said Herriman Mayor David Watts. “At the time, Mr. Miller dismissed the concerns with very little discussion. While some members of the Committee at the time did try to press the issue, there was not sufficient support from the full committee to override the Chair.”

Stringham called on the party to “stop associating with people who abuse.”

“It’s the only way to keep other women and men from dealing with the hell I have lived through,” she said.

Vice Chair Scott Rosenbush will serve as interim chair until the county party elects new leadership at its convention on April 10. Text messages and emails previously shared with The Tribune show Rosenbush was also made aware of multiple women’s concerns about Robinson.

(Screenshot) S.L. County GOP Chairman Scott Miller resigned Sunday in an email to his colleagues.