Gov. Kotek and Rep. Hoyle: 2 peas in a pod

By William MacKenzie,

Earlier this year, Gov. Tina Kotek and the Democratic Party of Oregon were under pressure to return a $500,000 contribution to the party in 2022 from Nishad Singh, the 27-year-old wunderkind director of engineering at FTX, the disgraced and now bankrupt crypto company.

John Ray III, the new boss of the bankrupt crypto exchange FTX, pushed to get the money back, but the party stalled, likely hoping the passage of time would diminish any public pressure to return Singh’s donation.

But the pressure didn’t let up. Finally, in June 2023 the party paid the piper, repaying the $500,000 to federal authorities, but not from the party’s coffers. Instead, the money came from the campaign accounts of Gov. Kotek, Sen Ron Wyden (D-OR), Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and three unnamed Democratic U.S. House members.

Rep. Val Hoyle, (D-OR), elected to the House of Representatives in Nov. 2022 by Oregon’s 4th Congressional District, could learn something from all this.

Don’t count on running out the clock on malfeasance.

Hoyle is trying to pull the same delaying tactics in a situation where the state’s Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) wants her to turn over her personal cellphones so the state can probe them for messages relating to state business Hoyle may have conducted outside public scrutiny when she was Labor Commissioner. In particular, BOLI is interested in any communications related to the controversial cannabis dispensary chain, La Mota.

Hoyle has resisted complying with the state’s request, insisting, instead, that she would review her personal devices and determine what was relevant to turn over to the state.

Talk about the fox wanting to guard the henhouse.

“She’s obligated to turn over those devices so they can be properly searched,” Ginger McCall, who served as Oregon’s public records advocate during 2018-19, told Willamette Week. “I don’t think that the public should have to trust her to do her own search, because obviously there’s a conflict of interest there on her part.”

Hoyle’s intransigence makes it look like she has something to hide. She’s be wise to learn from the FTX case that stalling won’t work. We’ll shame her until she gives in.