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October 14, 2017 10:06:26 PM
An Oktibbeha County supervisor who openly supports selling OCH Regional Medical Center has gone to extraordinary lengths in an effort to prove she's not deliberately misleading voters for personal gain.
Bricklee Miller, a first-term supervisor who represents District 4, has hired an attorney and last week took a polygraph exam.
Miller emailed The Dispatch an eight-page document late Friday night containing what appears to be results of a polygraph she completed on Wednesday at the office of her attorney, A. Michael Espy, in Jackson.
Retired Federal Bureau of Investigation agent Clay Poche administered the polygraph, the report indicated. Miller requested the polygraph, the report says. The Dispatch had not requested the document containing the results.
The reported results say Miller showed no signs of deception when she denied having solicited, taken or been offered money or anything of value in regard to selling OCH. It also notes "no indication of deception" when she denied, during the exam, ever intentionally misleading the public with information pertaining to a hospital sale or that any of her fellow supervisors had influenced her to support selling OCH.
"Since the issue of the possible sale of the Oktibbeha County hospital (arose), there (have) been accusations, allegations and rumors about Mrs. Miller on social media and to the press which alleged that (Miller) might be involved in personally benefiting from the sale of the hospital," Poche wrote in his report. "Bricklee Miller totally denies any and all of these allegations."
Miller has leveled criticism of OCH since being elected, most recently telling The Dispatch the county hospital "is failing." She claims the hospital has operated at a more than $5 million deficit this fiscal year -- a claim OCH leadership refutes.
The polygraph report indicates Miller told Poche how "a few individuals" have posted on social media and leaked to the press "false" and "malicious" accusations that she had solicited or taken kickbacks to support the OCH sale. She only supports the sale, according to the report, "to save Oktibbeha County millions of dollars and to provide better medical services for the county."
Miller, on two Facebook accounts -- her personal page and one she uses as her official supervisor account -- has taken harsh criticism and accusations from citizens opposed to the sale. Many commenters have suggested Miller is perpetuating false information about the hospital, while a few have suggested she stands to gain from a sale.
Miller has shared links and information advancing her claim that OCH is losing money, and has occasionally responded to critical comments.
She did not return calls seeking comment for this article.
OCH CEO Richard Hilton, through the hospital's public relations director Mary Kathryn Kight, declined to comment on Miller's polygraph.
Trainer: 'You can't win a battle on Facebook'
Voters will decide on Nov. 7 whether to authorize supervisors to pursue a hospital sale. Memphis, Tennessee-based Baptist Memorial Health Care Services and North Mississippi Health Services of Tupelo have both submitted proposals to buy the facility.
A majority of supervisors -- including Miller, Orlando Trainer of District 2 and Joe Williams of District 5 -- support the sale and attempted to move through the process earlier this year without a public vote. Supervisors John Montgomery and Marvell Howard, of districts 1 and 3, respectively, oppose the sale.
A public petition certified earlier this year forced the referendum.
Trainer, speaking to The Dispatch on Saturday, said he respects Miller's decision to "do what she felt she needed to do." He added, though, he didn't see where a polygraph was necessary.
"I'm not criticizing her. I guess I just didn't realize it had gotten to that point," Trainer said. "Any time you get caught up in the negative things people are saying about you, that stuff will ruin your day if you let it. And you can't win a battle on Facebook. You have your perspective, other people have theirs and you need to just do your best to move on.
"If you keep going back and forth with people on Facebook, nothing good is going to come of that," he added.
Zack Plair is the managing editor for The Dispatch.
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