Oregon Governor Wins Big During Taxpayer-Funded Casino Trip
7:38 PM 02/17/2017
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and her husband stayed in a hotel and casino on the taxpayers’ dime and walked away with a $5,000 donation to her political campaign, then later pocketed another $55,000 after opposing a rival’s bid for a new casino, an investigation revealed.
The Democratic governor visited the Seven Feathers Resort – a hotel and casino owned by the Cow Creek Band of the Umpqua Indian Tribe – for a "government to government summit," Brown’s official calendar shows. The trip included a "private breakfast with tribal chairs" on Dec. 16, 2015, and she charged her $212 hotel stay to Oregon taxpayers, credit card statements show.
The Cow Creek Band donated $5,000 to Brown’s campaign the same day, campaign data shows.
Brown announced her opposition in April 2016 to the Coquille Indian Tribe’s efforts to open a new casino. One study predicted that the new Coquille venue would cause Seven Feathers’ revenue to drop 13.2 percent, while the Cow Creek Band estimated a nearly 50 percent decrease, the Mail Tribune reported.
The Cow Creek Band donated another $55,000 after Brown’s announcement, which doesn’t include the tribe’s donations to Oregon’s Democratic Party. The Coquille only made one donation – for $2,000 – to Brown during the 2016 special election cycle, campaign data shows.
Brown became governor after her predecessor resigned in the wake of an influence-peddling scandal involving his fiancée.
"At arms-length, all of the individual transactions might be completely legal, however, the patterns are troubling," watchdog group Open The Books CEO Adam Andrzejewski told The Daily Caller News Foundation. "The fact that Kate Brown and staff are not answering questions, exercising an option to remain silent, is further cause for investigation."
Andrzejewski provided information on Brown’s taxpayer-funded trip and the subsequent $5,000 donation to TheDCNF.
Brown also took a last-minute donation from the president of an Oregon company that’s received more than $1 billion in taxpayer-funded state contracts, and 10 of those worth $444 million are up for renewal during the governor’s four-year term, TheDCNF previously reported.
Over 200 state contractors have donated more than $800,000 to Brown and Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum since 2012, Andrzejewski revealed in a Forbes article Monday. A state legislator has since proposed a measure to bar contractors from making political contributions.
"The governor or attorney general can not make a respectable public policy argument that soliciting state contractors for campaign cash is a good idea," Andrzejewski told TheDCNF. "Each transaction is a potential ethics scandal. There’s no good outcome here."
Neither Brown’s office nor the Cow Creek Band returned requests for comment.
Follow Ethan on Twitter. Send tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.