Rep. Gary Miller (R)
California 42nd District
The fastest growth in the Los Angeles metropolitan area over the past 25 years has been in the Inland Empire, at the eastern end of the Los Angeles Basin. Mostly orange groves and dairy farms a few decades ago, this territory is now the site of a booming economy, personal upward mobility, and ethnic and cultural diversity. The main ingredient of the economic growth has been small entrepreneurial businesses, usually started by people with no particular connections or advantages and often of Asian or Latino immigrant background. California has never been a land of leisure, as stereotype would have it, but rather a place for hard work, where the fertility of the soil and the productivity of the people have led to prosperity and, more recently, relative tolerance toward newcomers. (Anti-Asian sentiment expressed itself in the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and the Japanese-American internment camps of 1942-44. Despite occasional tensions since World War II, this has been one of the more welcoming destinations for immigrants.)
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
The 42nd Congressional District of California is centered in the Inland Empire where Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Orange counties come together. In San Bernardino County, it includes Chino, site of a large low-security prison and large meat-packing plants, whose smell can carry across the valley on a windy day, and Chino Hills, incorporated in 1991 and full of subdivisions for commuters who battle the heavy traffic on Interstate 5 to Orange and L.A. counties. In Los Angeles County, it includes Diamond Bar, La Habra Heights and the eastern part of Whittier. Nearly two-thirds of the district’s population is in Orange County. The county includes Yorba Linda, the birthplace of Richard Nixon and the site of his presidential library. Only 40,000 people lived there in 1913, when Nixon was born; 3 million live there today. Other Orange County towns in the 42nd are Brea and La Habra; the eastern part of Anaheim; and the newer condominium communities of Mission Viejo and Rancho Santa Margarita. The area lost more than 100 homes during wildfires in November 2008.
Ethnically diverse, the district is 27% Hispanic and 19% Asian, and relatively stable socially: It has the highest percentage of married people in the state. It leans Republican. In 2004, George W. Bush won the district with 62% here, and in 2008 John McCain won by 53%-45%.
Rep. Gary Miller (R)
Elected: 1998, 6th term.
Born: Oct. 16, 1948, Huntsville, AR .
Home: Diamond Bar.
Education: Mt. San Antonio Col. 1971, 1988-89.
Family: Married (Cathy); 4 children.
Military career: Army, 1967.
Elected office: Diamond Bar City Cncl., 1989-95; Diamond Bar Mayor, 1992; CA Assembly, 1995-98.
Professional Career: Businessman, real estate developer, G. Miller Development Co., 1971-98.
The congressman from the 42nd District is Gary Miller, a Republican first elected in 1998. He was born in Arkansas, but grew up in Whittier. In his early 20s, he became a home builder and later developed planned communities. He is among the wealthiest members of the House. He began his public service in 1988, when he was appointed to the Diamond Bar Municipal Advisory Council. A year later, after Diamond Bar was incorporated, Miller was elected to the City Council and served as mayor. In 1995, he was elected to the California Assembly in a special election. After chairing the Assembly’s Budget Committee, he decided in 1997 to run for the U.S. House against scandal-tarred incumbent Republican Jay Kim. Kim and his wife had pleaded guilty to accepting and concealing $230,000 in illegal campaign contributions. In March 1998, Kim was sentenced to house arrest, confined to the House and his apartment in suburban Virginia, and required to wear an electronic bracelet around his ankle for two months. As a result, he could not campaign back home. Miller emphasized standard Republican themes—lower taxes, tougher penalties for crime, improved local education—and financed his campaign largely with his own money. Miller won the all-party primary with 48% to 26% for Kim. Democrats did not pose a serious challenge in November.
|Gary Miller (R)||158,404||(60%)||($325,244)|
|Edwin Chau (D)||104,909||(40%)||($347,351)|
|Gary Miller (R)||Unopposed|
Prior Winning Percentages: 2006 (100%), 2004 (68%), 2002 (68%), 2000 (59%), 1998 (53%)
Since then, Miller has come under scrutiny for questionable ethics himself. Several of his land deals have been investigated by the media and by the Justice Department. One involved Miller’s sale of 165 acres to the city of Monrovia, Calif. According to several published reports, he made $10 million on the deal, then avoided paying capital-gains taxes by claiming the land had been threatened by an eminent-domain action by Monrovia. In another case, he got a $1.28 million earmark in an appropriations bill to improve streets in front of development property he co-owned in the town of Diamond Bar. Miller has maintained that he did nothing wrong and that he was the victim of a smear campaign by Democrats.
Miller, who has a conservative voting record in the House, has advanced some original proposals. He sponsored anti-spam legislation in the California Assembly long before spam became a notorious problem. In Congress, he sponsored a bill giving Internet service providers a cause of action against spammers, with $500 per message in penalties. A Civil War buff, Miller sponsored a bill to preserve Civil War battlefields after discovering that nearly 20% of the major battle sites have been lost. He won approval of matching grants for local governments and nonprofit organizations to preserve battle sites.
On the Financial Services Committee, he used his familiarity with development to focus on affordable-housing programs. He also won House passage of amendments for additional funding of brownfield redevelopment. He was active on legislation to address the mortgage crisis and sought to increase the maximum mortgage-loan limits for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in high-cost areas such as California. In 2008, he joined a bipartisan effort to revive a program that allowed sellers of properties to provide down-payment assistance to borrowers participating in the federal mortgage-insurance program
Democrats talked about trying to unseat Miller in 2008 in light of his ethics troubles. But they failed to put up much of a fight. Miller won easily, 60%-40%, over Montebello lawyer and school-board member Ed Chau in a low-budget contest. He suffered two personal tragedies in 2007. His 33-year-old daughter died for reasons that were not made public, and the children of one of his sons were abducted by their mother after a bitter custody dispute.