Idaho’s rogue lieutenant governor—now vying for the state’s top job—loves to say she “backs the blue.” But for several years she has funneled money to a far-right operative who uses his social media platform to advocate violence against law enforcement.
The $26,785 Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin’s office has paid Parrish Miller for “professional services” and “computer services” since she assumed her position in 2019 attracted scrutiny during a legislative hearing this January. Democratic lawmakers in the solidly red state questioned her decision to allocate funds out of her small budget to Miller, given that he simultaneously serves as an analyst for the Idaho Freedom Foundation, a conservative think tank caught up in a recent illegal lobbying scandal. Public disclosures show Miller also worked for McGeachin’s 2018 campaign for the second-highest post in the state, receiving a total of $9,425.
What has received less attention is Miller’s frothing animosity toward government in general and toward police officers and federal agents in particular. In a pair of 2020 opinion pieces, the Idaho Falls Post Register called Miller out for a Facebook post that urged confronting police who arrested a pandemic lockdown protester in Meridian, Idaho, with “an army of heavily armed citizens who won’t tolerate their tyranny any longer.” The articles also noted Miller frequently equates arrest with kidnapping on his page, and has written that “shooting someone who is attempting to kidnap you is always justified,” that “there is nothing wrong with hunting down active kidnappers to bring them to justice.”
“If anyone—including an employee of a criminal gang which calls itself a government—attempts to initiate force against an innocent individual, it is perfectly justifiable for that individual... to use defensive force (up to and including lethal force),” the paper quoted what seems to be a since-deleted post on his personal blog.
Miller did not respond to requests for comment, but one expert argued his posts speak for themselves.
“Parrish Miller is a well-known Idaho extremist,” said Mike Satz, executive director of the Idaho 97 Project—its name a riposte to the “Three Percenter” anti-government militias with whom McGeachin has repeatedly cavorted. “He utilizes very dangerous, very violent, very aggressive language very often online.”
Satz described Miller’s Facebook commentary as “inciteful” and “inflammatory,” and condemned McGeachin for not axing him. “By holding him up and maintaining a relationship with him, she's really endorsing it,” he said.
A Daily Beast analysis of Miller’s social media turned up exhortations to violence even more explicit than those the Post Register condemned. They seem to arise from his philosophy of voluntaryism, a 19th century anarcho-capitalist doctrine which holds that private property and individual rights are absolute and that the state is inherently oppressive—or, as Miller put it in a 2015 Facebook comment: “cops have no legitimate authority.”
Miller has promoted these theories, and the activities of anti-government militias, on the internet since at least 2014. But the bloody conclusion to the standoff between authorities and the armed ranchers at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in 2016 seems to have inflamed a particular lust for retribution.
As the year progressed, Miller’s posts grew increasingly fevered.
“Each and every day innocent people are murdered, kidnapped, and caged by government functionaries,”’ the Oregon native wrote on Facebook that May. “Voting has never and will never change these facts. Shooting the offending government functionaries might.”
In September, Miller fantasized about “freedom fighters” who would “be demonized as “cop killers” for meeting government action with deadly force.
“What does ‘Molon labe’ mean to you? The right to keep and bear arms is inalienable which means ‘unable to be taken away from or given away by the possessor,’” he wrote. “If a cop attempts to confiscate a gun from someone, that person has the right to use lethal force to protect their inalienable right.”
When a Facebook friend challenged Miller—who even opposes restricting gun possession by felons, children, and the mentally ill—he doubled down.
“ANY person—including politicians and cops—who EVER attempts to disarm ANYONE who is not actively involved in harming another person is the true criminal and thus defensive force—up to and including lethal force—is fully justified to prevent their attempted confiscation.”
The following year, Miller broadened his calls for the destruction of government property and the execution of public servants. Just before the Fourth of July in 2017, he wrote, “Using fireworks to commemorate 'Independence Day' is a direct reminder that explosives are an excellent way to combat tyranny.”
In August, amid the trial of Eric Parker, who famously aimed a rifle at federal agents from a highway overpass in Nevada in 2014 amid the dispute over rancher Cliven Bundy’s practice of grazing cattle on federal lands, Miller suggested Parker did not go far enough.
Miller’s views have not cooled with time—nor with his service on McGeachin’s campaign.
“If independence required secession, revolution, and shooting government enforcers in 1775, why would it be any different today?” he wondered on Facebook on July 2, 2018, after having pocketed $5,625 of the future lieutenant governor’s donor dollars.
“Actions that are ALWAYS justified. Resisting arrest. Lying to state employees. Ignoring state mandates. Not paying taxes or fines,” he wrote a few weeks later.
Not even the government checks he began receiving from McGeachin’s office the following year tempered his vitriol. In July 2019, one day after public records show he received another of his monthly payments from the state, Miller posted another rant against “they system,” this time encouraging the murder of anybody involved in the justice system.
The onset of the pandemic and the restrictions on public gatherings unleashed a torrent of calls for violent action against law enforcement that captured the attention of the Post Register. But that did not stop the flow of taxpayer money from McGeachin’s team to Miller.
July 1 of this year presented Miller with the opportunity to return to one of his favorite topics: the virtues of deploying incendiary devices against police and politicians.
The Idaho Freedom Foundation did not respond to multiple requests for comment. McGeachin’s office refused to say whether she agreed with Miller’s views, or to describe the exact nature of Miller’s work for her, calling it “a ridiculous line of questioning.”
“I have been a strong and consistent supporter of law enforcement throughout my life and my political career,” McGeachin said in a statement emailed to The Daily Beast.
Satz said Miller functions as a vital tie between the lieutenant governor and the Idaho Freedom Foundation, which has attracted criticism even from Republicans over its surreptitious influence on state politics. He pointed to Miller’s nebulous work arrangements with both McGeachin and the conservative nonprofit. Miller’s LinkedIn page indicates he stopped working for the foundation in 2015, but his name and picture still appear on a list of analysts on the organization website, and he posted his most recent assessment before the Idaho statehouse to the foundation’s website this May, coinciding with the close of the state’s legislative calendar.
Meanwhile, McGeachin has appointed an Idaho Freedom Foundation employee to her anti-critical race theory “task force.” The group and its affiliate Idaho Freedom Action have in turn featured McGeachin on their website and in their videos, including one last October objecting to lockdown measures.
Democratic lawmakers and the Post-Register highlighted that the entire time McGeachin has contracted with Miller, she has left one of the jobs budgeted for her office permanently vacant—and pointed out that the state already provides officials with the sort of professional services she has paid him for. Satz asserted this complicated free agent deal in fact allows Miller to legally act as a liaison between the Idaho Freedom Foundation and the lieutenant governor, skirting the sort of lobbying and ethics rules Idaho Freedom Foundation vice president Dustin Hurst ran afoul of earlier this year.
“He's still clearly operating as a conduit between them and Janice McGeachin,” Satz said of Miller.
McGeachin’s campaign and government outlays to Miller also disturbed the Idaho State Fraternal Order of Police, whose 2,600 members include state troopers who will be under her command if she wins the governor’s race.
“We are not privy to the exact nature of that relationship or what boundaries are set between Mr. Miller and the Lt. Governor, but what I can tell you is when any elected official has ties to someone who is clearly anti-law enforcement and who openly advocates for the killing of cops it naturally raises concerns and questions from our membership,” said Sgt. Bryan Lovell, the union’s president.
For more than a year McGeachin has courted the spotlight, and clashed with incumbent GOP Gov. Brad Little, with her virulent opposition to COVID-19-related restrictions. In 2020, she reopened her family bar in defiance of Little’s rules. In May, when Little briefly left the state, she pounced: using her temporary authority to ink an executive order that banned masks in public facilities—a move Little swiftly reversed upon returning home.
Little has yet to announce whether he will seek a second term, but McGeachin will face plenty of competition next year regardless: there are presently seven contenders in the 2022 GOP primary field, including vigilante rancher Ammon Bundy.