Rhode Island state senator was ordered to pay restitution after he keyed a SUV with an anti-Biden sticker and then lied to police. While the sentence is fairly standard, it seems a tad light in this particular case. Sen. Joshua Miller lied to police and holds a position of public trust. The expungement of the crime is particularly unfortunate given the role of a leading politician in politically motivated property destruction.
Miller was also ordered to make a donation to the local food bank. Ordering defendants to support unrelated charities adds another controversial element, though it is also now quite common. Judges routinely order payments not to the treasury or a victim fund but charities of the court’s choice.
Yet, it is the overall sentence that is concerning given Miller’s conduct not only during the incident but after it.
After keying the car, Miller was found out by police, who confronted him at his home. He then made a series of false statements. While he later expressed shame and suggested that he only acted in the moment, he offered a calculated and false account long after the incident.
Miller, 69, told The Boston Globe, “in a blink of an eye, I exhibited a lack of self-control that has impacted my reputation.” But it was more than a blink. Long after the incident, Miller made up a story of how he was being stalked by gun owners for his anti-gun policies and thought this was one of his stalkers.
He explained that he keyed the car “because he was daring me to, basically.”
The victim neither knew Miller nor recognized him. Nevertheless, Miller claimed that he thought he was a “gun nut” who was stalking him. He told the officers to talk to their superior, Col. Michael Winquist, who was aware of his stalking complaints. That proved to be untrue as well.
Nevertheless, Senate President Dominick Ruggerio, a top Rhode Island Democrat, defended Miller to Fox News and said it was just one unfortunate moment. He neglected to address how Miller lied to the officers long after the property destruction.
Miller pleaded no contest to the two charges and was ordered to pay $2,850 in restitution to the vehicle owner and to donate $250 to the Rhode Island Community Food Bank. If he does not commit any more crimes for the next year, the case will be expunged from his record.
After the collapse of Miller’s false account, what was left was something all too familiar today: a sense of license to destroy property as an act of rage. Because he found the anti-Biden sticker triggering and upsetting, Miller sought to punish the. man for having opposing views. To Miller, having an anti-Biden sticker was “daring” him to take action. It is the license of the age of rage.