Senate GOP Leader calls for immediate resignation of ODOT Director

Sen. Ted Ferrioli

Senator Ted Ferrioli

Documents Show ODOT Director Matt Garrett Failed to Notify Lawmakers of Key Details Involving Transportation Negotiations

Salem, Ore. – Senate Republican Leader Ted Ferrioli (R-John Day) yesterday called for the immediate resignation of Oregon Department of Transportation Director Matthew Garrett. Ferrioli issued the call after reviewing documents from a public records request related to the 2015 session transportation package negotiations that reveal Director Garrett misled transportation workgroup members by providing inaccurate carbon reduction numbers.

Transportation funding discussions ended abruptly on June 24, 2015 after Director Garrett announced in a Senate Special Committee on Sustainable Transportation hearing that carbon reduction numbers provided by ODOT that had formed the foundation of a bipartisan compromise to fund infrastructure investments were overstated. Emails obtained by the Senate Republican Office via a public records request show Director Garrett knew the greenhouse gas emissions (“GHG”) estimates provided to the workgroup to guide carbon reduction discussions were inaccurate as early as June 10.

“In June, following the implosion of transportation negotiations, I demanded Governor Brown immediately request the resignation of Director Garrett due to gross incompetency at best and dishonest manipulation at worst,” said Ferrioli. “Whether Director Garrett knew the numbers ODOT provided the workgroup were wrong or he simply failed to provide the updated numbers in his possession, his decision to surprise workgroup members with new numbers in a public hearing without any advance warning led to the demise of a critical, bipartisan transportation infrastructure package for Oregonians that would have resulted in real carbon reduction. Director Garrett must resign effective immediately so ODOT can begin repairing its broken credibility and we can move forward with new negotiations to finally fix Oregon’s roads and bridges.”

Records show Director Garrett relayed a new GHG reduction estimate to two of Governor Brown’s advisors who were active in the transportation negotiations on June 10, 2015. However, advisors to Governor Brown continued to share documents with incorrect GHG estimates with legislative leaders and other stakeholders after recognizing the first GHG error, even while sensitive negotiations among members of the bipartisan transportation workgroup were ongoing. Director Garrett failed to correct the inaccurate carbon reduction numbers for two weeks during workgroup discussions.

Despite being aware of clear inconsistencies related to the GHG reduction estimates, Director Garrett failed to have ODOT staff vet the numbers until less than 24 hours before he was scheduled to testify before the Senate Sustainable Transportation Committee. Director Garrett was notified by ODOT staff the next morning that previous GHG reduction estimates, including the estimates shared with lawmakers, were in fact inaccurate. He did not reveal the significant mistake to lawmakers until he was called to testify before the Sustainable Transportation Committee several hours later.

A memo and timeline detailing relevant events during the June 2015 negotiations can be found here. Relevant public records can be accessed here.