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SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Gov. Spencer Cox and Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson released a statement Saturday calling for the Salt Lake County GOP chairman to apologize for sending a letter attacking women for alleging sexual harassment by a county GOP volunteer, communications director David Robinson.
Salt Lake County GOP Chairman Scott Miller emailed the letter to a Utah GOP mailing list on Friday, March 26, complaining about women in the Utah Republican Party who have accused Robinson of sexual harassment.
"Instead of bringing their allegations directly to me and to the Salt Lake County GOP Executive Committee, calling for an independent investigation of their allegations, they take their salacious allegations to the 'Democrat's political high court': the Salt Lake Tribune," Miller wrote in the letter obtained by KSL.com.
Miller said that he had met with an editor and reporter from the Tribune on Thursday, March 25. "In that meeting, I was told of 7 women who are making allegations against one of my volunteers and me," he wrote.
Miller then listed each woman who made an accusation and explained why he believes these allegations are false and "very suspicious."
"(I)t seems they have a personal and political agenda against one of my volunteers, against me, and against our policy of transparency," Miller wrote. He also suggested that the accusations were an attempt to prevent him from becoming chairman of the state Republican Party.
"Are these persons and possibly their special interest backers attempting to embarrass and cancel me and our volunteers ...? Are most of the accuser's sore losers who failed to win their respective races? Is this an attempt to disrupt my efforts to become the Utah GOP Chairman?"
He added, "I will not be CANCELLED."
The Salt Lake Tribune posted an article about its investigation Saturday, naming Robinson as the volunteer accused of misconduct.
Cox and Henderson released a statement Saturday in response to the letter:
"We are deeply offended by the recent reprehensible communications to Salt Lake County delegates. Let us be clear: This type of behavior should never happen and when it does we will not tolerate it, ignore it, or explain it away. It is unacceptable. The Republican Party needs women in our policymaking and discussions. Sincere apologies are owed to the women who have been victimized and we admire their courage and strength in coming forward. That is not an easy thing to do."
Following the governor and lieutenant governor's statement, Miller sent an additional email Saturday, claiming the Salt Lake County Executive Committee and the Utah Republican Party "refused to conduct" a third-party investigation of the allegations and said he would establish a policy in order for an investigation to be made. Miller also said he first heard of the allegations from the Salt Lake Tribune reporter, and not from the women who made the accusations.
"As the father of 5 daughters, I applaud these women for coming forward and I have encouraged any accusers to come forward. I take these allegations seriously. I want to be very clear, I do not and will not tolerate sexual harassment, sexual assault, etc.," Miller wrote in the new email.
The new email on Saturday included a draft sexual harassment policy for the Salt Lake County Republican Party that details a "clear path for an investigation, protecting the accusers, and providing a fair process for both those alleging and those accused," Miller said. He requested a review of the proposed policy for the Salt Lake County Republican Party, asking that recipients of the email and Cox review the language and comments in the policy "no later than the end of day Monday, March 29" so that the sexual harassment policy can be published by Tuesday.
"Anyone who feels they have been harassed and or assaulted must have a process to be heard," Miller wrote. "In addition, the accused must be able to defend themselves of any and all allegations. We are a Party of due process."
Scott Rosenbush, vice chairman of the Salt Lake County Republican Party, gave a statement Saturday night that said members of the county party's executive committee "are aware of two emails sent by" Miller and that the committee "was not aware of either email or their contents before they were sent. We will be holding an Executive Committee meeting as soon as possible to address this matter."
Utah Republican Party Chairman Derek Brown also released a statement Saturday night, calling the allegations "appalling."
"Yesterday, Miller made a statement which read as an attempt to shield both he and Robinson from forthcoming allegations of bullying, intimidation, and harassment that they knew would soon be made public in an article that was released today. Ironically, his statement proceeded to bully, intimidate, and harass individual women, by name, not only substantiating their allegations, but perhaps providing a public example of what they may have experienced privately... To each of these women, know that the Utah Republican Party stands for your right to engage in the political arena free of bullying, intimidation, or harassment."
Eight state Republican legislators who are women responded to the letters Saturday evening on Twitter:
"We are the party of woman suffrage and upward mobility and should continue to lead out in having diverse voices at the table and strong leadership from both women and men in our community. As Republican female legislators, we condemn bullying, harassment, sexism, and the misuse of party resources. These actions have no place within our party."
Cox and Henderson had not responded publicly to the new letter as of Saturday evening.