Oregon Gov. Kate Brown is keeping a significant amount of her schedule out of the public eye, redacting line items on nearly nine out of every 10 days since she assumed office, according to a government watchdog group.
Open The Books (OTB) Founder and CEO Adam Andrzejewski released the most recent findings of his group’s investigation into the Democrat governor’s federal expenditures Thursday.
"During her first two terms, our audit revealed Governor Kate Brown redacted nearly 4,000 items from her official state calendar," Andrzejewski wrote in Forbes. "In addition to these transparency issues, we found potential violations of Oregon state law regarding Brown’s credit card spending."
From February 2015 through April 2018, Brown’s official calendar showed between one and 14 redactions on 994 of 1,156 days.
The redactions were lawful, protecting the names of Oregon State Police officers and Brown’s security team, the Oregon governor’s office claimed. Also redacted were 500 events marked as "campaign."
Before tallying the redactions, OTB left out any redactions relevant to security officers but counted everything else.
State Laws allow
redactions for "personal" information, such as doctor’s appointments and other disclosures that "constitute an unreasonable invasion of privacy." Campaign information is "not a matter of ‘public record'" under state law, a circuit court ruled
The governor’s internal policy
on "political activities" forbids state employees "from using any work time or any state resources to conduct political activities."
"If state employees on state time are entering campaign events, meetings and activities on the governor’s taxpayer-funded calendar, then it certainly looks like a violation of the iron wall between state agency resources and campaign activities," Andrzejewski wrote.
Brown used taxpayer funds to pay her $537 annual membership fee to the Oregon State Bar when she served as Oregon’s secretary of state, OTB’s investigation also found. As governor, Brown’s accounting department forced her to repay nearly $500 she spent on private matters, such as shopping at Home Depot.
Brown took over as Oregon’s governor after her predecessor resigned
in the middle of an ethics and criminal investigation into him and his fiancé for selling influence.
Brown, elected in part to restore the public trust, has been at the center of her own "troubling" incidents. For instance, Brown’s campaign received $55,000 from a Native American tribe after opposing the construction of a casino that would rival the tribe’s own.
Brown’s office did not respond to a request for comment.