Miller takes polygraph amid OCH debate

District 4 Supervisor Bricklee Miller
By: 
RYAN PHILLIPS
SDN EDITOR

As the debate over the future of OCH Regional Medical Center ramps up ahead of the Nov. 7 referendum vote, District 4 Supervisor Bricklee Miller submitted to a polygraph test in an effort to dispel criticism relating to her support of selling the hospital.

Miller provided a polygraph test report dated Oct. 12 to the Starkville Daily News on Friday, which said the test was conducted on Wednesday at Miller's request. The test was conducted at attorney A. Michael Espy’s office in Jackson by retired FBI polygraph examiner Clay Poche.

“Since the issue of the possible sale of the Oktibbeha County Hospital, there has been accusations, allegations, and rumors about Mrs. Miller on social media and to the press which alleged that Mrs. Bricklee Miller might be involved in personally benefiting from the sale of the hospital,” the polygraph report stated. “Bricklee Miller totally denies any and all of the allegations and has requested to undergo a polygraph examination.”

The polygraph report also said Miller explained to the examiner that some individuals leaked false information to the press in the form of malicious and "totally untrue accusations and allegations," claiming Miller solicited money or took kickbacks regarding the possible sale of the hospital.

In the first series of questions, Miller was asked the following questions, providing the corresponding response.

• Have you ever solicited any money or anything of value from anyone in regard to selling the county hospital? Answer: No.
• Have you been offered any money or anything of value in regard to selling the county hospital? Answer: No.
• Have you taken any money or anything of value from anyone in regard to selling the county hospital? Answer: No.

The second series of questions were as follows:

• Have you intentionally misled the citizens of Oktibbeha County with information pertaining to the possible sale of the hospital? Answer: No.
• Have any of your fellow board members tried to influence your vote with regard to the sale of the hospital? Answer: No.

Poche said in his examination, the responses were “not indicative of deception, which means that Mrs. Miller answered each question truthfully.”

Additionally, Poche also reported activating the PolyScore scoring feature of the Lafayette Computerized Polygraph System for the purpose of providing a second opinion.

The results of the second opinion also asserted there was no deception indicated.

SUPES SPEAK OUT

Miller told the Starkville Daily News she took the series of polygraph tests because the focus has been shifted from county health care to personal attacks against her.

The test was paid for with personal funds by Miller, who said public money was not used to pay for the examination.

Miller has been an outspoken proponent on social media of selling the county-owned hospital, and has regularly shared news articles and information pertaining to the deal.

The posts have generated debate on both sides of the issue, which Miller said prompted her to find a way to dispel rumors and address attacks against her credibility.

“The reason is because the focus should not be on me, which is what the campaign has become,” Miller said in an interview. “The focus should be on how we can have better health care for our community. As far as me, when somebody is making false allegations about me, what they are doing is taking the focus off the facts and making it personal about me.”

The results of the test were also posted to Miller’s District 4 Supervisor Facebook page, which is operated by Miller and not officially affiliated with the Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors other than in name only.

Board of Supervisors President Orlando Trainer said in an interview he had just seen the results of the test and felt Miller took the test to "calm whatever kind of unrest is out there.”

“I haven’t been keeping up with all of the conversations on Facebook,” Trainer told the SDN. “At the same time, I felt like she needed to clear the air and I respect that. I’m hoping the general public will look past that and make an informed decision.”

Representatives from OCH declined to comment when contacted concerning Miller’s decision to take a polygraph test.

Miller said by sharing the information she has provided throughout the process, such as the financials and other statistics, she is giving citizens information to make the ultimate decision. Miller insisted ahead of the polygraph test the hospital owes $25 million in bond debt and has lost $5 million this year, which she has confirmed with statistical data.

“I’m the one that made the motion to lead the vote,” Miller said. “But what they’re trying to do is shoot the messenger. The messenger is me giving the facts. I had never done anything like that before and to do it and to not only take two, but to take six and pass them at the highest possible score, it takes the credibility out of what they were trying to say about me because it absolutely was not true.”

Trainer showed support for Miller’s efforts in regard to constituents and discussed the difficulties of being in an elected position during divisive issues.

“In lieu of the factual matter, if there is something that is inappropriately done, it will come out,” Trainer said. “I’m confident (Miller) has done what she thinks is right and that’s the kind of the leaders we need. As far as I’m concerned, she is doing a great job and all of my colleagues are doing a great job.”

District 5 Supervisor Joe Williams told the Starkville Daily News he thought Miller's decision to take a polygraph test speaks well of her credibility and dependability as a supervisor.

"I believe that Supervisor Miller will put all of the false accusations to rest as a result of those polygraph tests," Williams said.

Williams also said the fact Miller was willing to move forward with a polygraph examination will help ease some of the divisiveness in the community concerning the issue.

Ted Woodrell, of Woodrell Consulting, who is advising the Board of Supervisors during the process of determining the future of OCH, told the Starkville Daily News he hoped the news of Miller's polygraph test would clear up some of the issues of misrepresentation, but he couldn't be certain what effect it would have on those divided in the community.

“I think it shows she is very clearly trying to make it known she hasn’t lied and this is a clear indication of that," Woodrell said.

Attempts to contact District 1 Supervisor John Montgomery and District 3 Supervisor Marvell Howard have not been returned as of Sunday afternoon.

POLYGRAPH TESTS

The American Psychological Association (APA) reports the accuracy or validity of polygraph testing is controversial because there is no evidence that “any pattern of physiological reactions is unique to deception.”

“An honest person may be nervous when answering truthfully and a dishonest person may be non-anxious,” according to an APA report. “Also, there are few good studies that validate the ability of polygraph procedures to detect deception.”

However, the American Polygraph Association believes scientific evidence supports the validity of polygraph examinations that are conducted and interpreted in compliance with documented and validated procedure.

The data of one study by the American Polygraph Association showed that techniques intended for event-specific/single issue diagnostic testing produced an aggregated decision accuracy of 89 percent. This included a confidence interval of 83 percent to 95 percent, with an estimated inconclusive rate of 11 percent. 

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