Gov. Kate Brown’s transparency pledges clouded by how she governs

Jayne Carroll, Host
Jayne Carroll Show, KUIK AM 1360,
M-F 3:00 – 6:00 p.m.
Portland, Oregon Metropolitan area

Is “transparency” just the latest evasive “shell game” being played by Oregon Governor Kate Brown to mask her slight of hand and persistent delays in adhering to a potentially embarrassing public information request from Oregon Capital Watch, a government spending watchdog group?

Brown, who became Oregon’s governor in 2015 when her fellow Democrat John Kitzhaber was forced to resign due to allegations of influence peddling, openly blasted Kitzhaber in the Oregonian for being slow to respond to open record laws.

“It was clear transparency was not a priority in the prior administration,” she told lawmakers. “I changed that my first day on the job and every day since.”

“Everyday since” may have not been exactly accurate or even truthful on Brown’s part. Note: If all of this “moving of the tiny pea underneath a fast moving shell” seems intentionally nontransparent it should be noted that full disclosure of what occurred came too late to possibly impact the gubernatorial election and involved apparent changing of the rules after the fact to make Brown’s actions comply with her own now revised policies.

Here is the convoluted story of Brown improperly using government credit cards for personal expenses, ( hidden until revealed by the Capitol Watch’s public information request), eventually reimbursing the money to the state and revising internal rules to make this arrangement retroactively legitimate, and only then fully disclosing the wrongful ( at the time) using of state credit cards for personal items four months after the original public information request and just days prior to the election:

1. July 15, 2016, Oregon Capital Watch made a request to review among other things Governor Brown’s state credit card statements. Brown’s office released only the timesheets portion of the public records request on August 9, 2016.

2. On November 4, 2016, four days prior to the gubernatorial election and four long months after the initial request, Brown provided her credit card expenditures revealing her credit card mis-use. After reviewing questionable expenses Capitol Watch submitted an additional request for any expenses the Governor reimbursed the state for unauthorized personal charges made on her government card, which they received in late January 2017. It’s important to note that the Governor’s mistakes would have remained hidden if the public records request had not been made. So much for ‘transparency’.

3. Coincidentally, Brown’s office amended her own credit card use policies on August 8, 2016 (the day prior to sending the initial incomplete public record response to Capital Watch) to allow for personal expenditures on government credit cards to be made if reimbursed.

An oversight on Brown’s part, a legitimate mistake, a tiny slight of the hand or an increasing and disturbing pattern of hiding information from the public while boasting of yet to be realized transparency and openness from the Brown administration? Maybe the answer is under Shell #3, but between Kate Brown and Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenbaum’s often delayed and incomplete compliance with Oregon Public Record laws, John Kitzhaber seems to have to set the standard for both of these statewide elected Democrat

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