Gov. faces second Public Records resignation scandal

Taxpayers Association of Oregon

Last year at this time, Oregon’s public records advocate, Ginger McCall, shocked the state with a surprise resignation after she described feeling pressure to do unethical actions.  Now we have, Oregon public records advocate, Becky Chiao, resigning after conflict over independence.

The Oregonian details the conflict between Chiao and a Salem Reporter Les Zaitz:

“In his letter critiquing Chiao’s leadership, Zaitz cited her interactions with the public records council at its Sept. 17 meeting, during which she initially refused the council’s directive to write a letter to the governor seeking continued funding for her office. She also suggested she would try to get her own bill introduced in the 2021 legislative session because she disagreed with the council’s advocate independence plan.

Chiao ultimately wrote the funding letter to the governor but only after the council directed her to do so in her role as council chair, not as the advocate. In a memorandum to the council, Chiao said the advocate’s ties to the governor make the position more powerful. She objected to the public records council’s plan to take over responsibility for overseeing the advocate.
In the letter to Chiao, Zaitz wrote that “I know from working on public records reform in Oregon for decades that this is hard work. Making progress requires consensus and collaboration. The clear divide between the (council) and you, in my opinion is irreparable and imperils material progress.”

In the end, Chiao also said she concluded the disagreements would interfere with transparency work. Chiao wrote that the advocate’s role “is to work to resolve conflicts between the government and those seeking public records, not to become the subject of additional conflict.” Chiao declined to comment Tuesday.”

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