(Photo Contributed) Tom Miller is set to end his career as the longest-serving state attorney general in the United States. He has been Iowa’s Attorney General for his 40 years and his last 28 years in a row.
DES MOINES — As Tom Miller prepares to leave the Iowa Attorney General’s Office after 40 years as Iowa’s top attorney, the last 28 years in a row, Miller says he appreciates the people of Iowa. Stated.
“I am so grateful and grateful to have had 40 years. I have held that position longer than anyone else in the history of the country,” Miller said. “It’s been a great year for me and hopefully a great year for the state.”
He lost his job to Republican Brenna Byrd in a close match on November 8, by a margin of 50.8% to 49.1%. It marked the end of his long and successful career as Iowa Attorney General.
But Miller was defeated nearly half a century ago. In 1974, he lost his first election campaign to Republican Attorney General Richard Turner, 52% to 48%. Miller won his 1978 rematch, 1982 and he was re-elected in 1986.
He tried to move up in 1990 but lost to Donald Avenson in the Democratic gubernatorial primary. Donald Avenson was out of five candidates and lost to Governor Terry Branstad.
Democrat Bonnie Campbell was elected Attorney General in 1990, but resigned four years later to challenge and lose to Branstad.
Miller returned to the Iowa Attorney General’s Office in 1994 and has since been re-elected six times. However, his career came to an end in 2010 when he lost to Byrd, whom he defeated when she went by the name Brena Findley.
After serving as a Guthrie County attorney since 2018, Byrd is up against Miller again, this time backed by former President Donald
Trump and the support of several conservative organizations, including the Republican Association of Attorneys General, which reportedly donated $2.6 million to her campaign. Bird reportedly raised her $3.1 million and Miller her $1.8 million.
Polls showed he had a slight lead over the summer and into the fall, but on election night Byrd jumped those predictions to become the first since Turner, who was in office from 1968-78. Became the Republican Attorney General.
She will join other Republican lawmakers in state office, including Governor Kim Reynolds, who was easily reelected to a second term, Lt. Governor Adam Gregg, Secretary of State Paul Pate and Agriculture Secretary Mike Naig. is. She was also elected.
Robbie Smith becomes the new state treasurer as Davenport’s state senator defeats Democratic incumbent Michael Fitzgerald. Like Miller, Fitzgerald had the longest tenure in the country. He was also exiled after ten terms and his 40-year tenure.
The only Democrat remaining in statewide office is auditor Rob Sand, who won a second term ahead of Republican Todd Halber from 50.1% to 49.9%.
Staff and family pride
Miller said he was proud of his staff’s work. He has about 240 employees, some of whom he has worked under him for over 20 years. According to Miller, it’s up to Byrd to decide who stays in the office.
“I am very grateful to the voters who have given me 40 years. I am very grateful to the staff who have worked so hard to build my reputation. I am also grateful to my family,” he said. said. “I think I ran a very professional office. Whatever the political tide, we did what we believed was right.”
Miller said he wasn’t naturally very partisan, hiring Democrats and Republicans to work in his office.
He said he has been working with Bird since the election and plans for a smooth transition.
“I believe that once the election is over, we will put politics aside and move on,” he said. “That’s what we’re trying to do and what she wants.”
Miller is stepping down as the longest serving Attorney General in American history. The previous mark was held by former Michigan Attorney General Frank Kelly, 37 years and he served five days. Kelly still holds the record for longest continuous tenure in his office.
Miller, who turned 78 in August, said he has no plans for a comeback.
“This is the end of my elective career,” he said.
Miller ran 13 campaigns statewide and won 10. He wanted it to be 11, but he said he would accept the people’s verdict.
“That’s enough,” he said with a laugh. “enough.”
Miller said he would likely retire after another semester, but said he had already run his “last race” three times. He said he enjoys his job and isn’t ready to call it a career.
Aside from running for governor, Mr. Miller said he never sought another office and has no regrets about it.
“No, definitely not,” said Miller. “I love this job. It’s a great job.”
He will be paid $123,669 in 2022, as set by state law, and will receive a pension in IPERS just like any eligible state employee. His office said he would likely be eligible for state retiree health benefits.
Miller is from Dubuque. His father, Elmer Miller, was an assessor for Dubuque County for many years and inspired him to enter public office. After graduating from Wallaht High School in 1962 and Loras College in Dubuque in 1966, Miller graduated from Harvard Law School in 1969 with a law degree.
After leaving Harvard, he held a variety of jobs, but one was particularly meaningful as he served as an aide to Harvard alumnus Rep. John Culver. An Iowa Democrat, Culver served 10 years in the U.S. House of Representatives and one term in the U.S. Senate.
According to Miller, Culver had high standards and was “an excellent leader.”
Miller returned to Iowa in 1973 and opened a law firm in McGregor, Iowa, where he served as city attorney for McGregor and Marquette. He also ran for Attorney General in 1974, beginning his political career.
Miller lost, but was elected in 1978. Except for his four years from 1991 to his 95, he has been Iowa’s top attorney ever since.
Reflecting on his career, he said he was proud to have played a leading role in the fight against Big Tobacco.
Attorneys general from 45 states, including Iowa, sued four major tobacco companies and settled with them in 1998, promising not to attempt to recover tobacco-related damages to residents of those states. Since then, Iowa has received her $1.41 billion payment under the Master Settlement Agreement. Less than a quarter of her (22%) are sent to the state. The remainder will be paid to bondholders who purchase bonds issued by the Tobacco Clearing Authority.
More importantly, according to Miller, the number of Americans who smoke has dropped significantly, and so have the number of children who start smoking.
But the battle isn’t over. In a lawsuit filed in Polk County in July, Miller sued Philip Morris, RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company of the United States, and 16 of his other tobacco companies for more than his $133 million. He said companies are withholding some of the required annual payments.
“We’ve fought and won these legal battles for years, and there’s no end in sight to these disputes,” Miller said in July. escalate and force tobacco companies to pay Iowa.”
Miller has also made reducing juvenile crime a major initiative in his office and is working to provide compensation for crime victims.
His office’s consumer protection division helped hundreds of thousands of Iowans who had problems with poor debt collection practices, telemarketing fraud and abuse, charity fraud, predatory loans, mortgages, and vehicle complaints. We’ve been helping people. The department has fought telemarketing scams, especially those targeting seniors.
Miller said his office has confirmed it will help people in rural Iowa. When he took office in 1979, he started the first agriculture division in the country’s attorney general’s office.
Since then, his office has stood by farmers in legal battles against large agribusiness companies, filed and won lawsuits against agrochemical companies, and helped hundreds of farmers to avoid huge pipeline projects across their farmlands. Helping get a fair shake, state groups argued to protect farmers who contract with large agribusinesses for compensation to farmers and elevators who suffered losses as a result of Starlink’s genetically engineered corn Promoted laws to prevent high fertilizer prices and investigated high fertilizer prices.
In October, Miller announced the Billion Pill Pledge program in partnership with Goldfinch Health, an Iowa city company, to reduce opioid abuse in rural areas. Its goal is to remove 1 billion pills from the black market each year.
“Opioid settlements offer a new avenue to prevent future addiction and provide treatment resources to those who need it,” says 10 hospitals serving rural Iowa. “The goal of this program is to improve the health of rural communities, particularly those within those communities at risk or already affected by the opioid epidemic,” he said. It’s about extending support to people.”
Miller has also spent time on the national stage.
He said it was “a little daunting” when he first appeared in the Supreme Court in 2003 on a casino tax case.
The racetrack owner argued that it was unfair that Riverboat Casino was charged a 20% tax when it paid a 36% tax on slot machine earnings. The difference, according to the state, is that floating casinos are allowed to promote tourism and economic development in cities along the Mississippi and Missouri rivers.
Racetrack casino owners said the difference violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution. The district court upheld the state, but the Iowa Supreme Court overturned it in her 4-3 ruling.
Miller said all nine judges have served at the High Court for at least 10 years. They had heard of other equal protection cases before and were clearly well informed on the matter.
In a second case before the High Court in 2004, a man convicted three times of DUI pleaded guilty to his first offense after waiving his right to a lawyer without understanding the consequences. claimed to have been made. The district court and the Iowa Court of Appeals have dismissed that claim.
However, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled in favor of defendant Felipe Tovar, 4-3. Miller then appeared before the U.S. Supreme Court, as he did with the casino.
“I won both,” he said. “Bringing cases in the Supreme Court is the pinnacle of a career as a lawyer.”
Both verdicts were unanimously in his favor.
Miller has served as President of the National Association of Attorneys General and has been honored as the Attorney General for the greatest service to NAAG and its members. He chaired several of his NAAG committees and led his group of major multistate workings focused on tobacco issues, antitrust enforcement, agriculture, and consumer protection.
Miller was close to Culver, who died on December 26, 2018, for decades. He said he reflected on what his old boss told him years ago.
“You don’t know how much pressure you’re under until you walk out of the office,” Miller said. “I’m starting to think he was right.”
He said he plans to take some time off — he hasn’t taken much time off in the last 50 years — and then practice law part-time.
“I’m not retiring,” said Miller. “I have to keep working.”