It appears that Oregon’s Democrat Governor Kate Brown is breaking state law by using state tax dollars to pay for her re-election campaign, a report says.
The state of Oregon has a rule against elected officials using state tax dollars to fund re-election campaigns, but according to a new report, Gov. Brown is all too often mixing state events and campaign events leading to a defacto use of state money for her re-election campaign.
The facts have emerged from a government watchdog group called Open The Books, a group that tracks government spending.
A new report was issued by OTB resulting in the following information published in Forbes magazine:
Our auditors found Brown repeatedly blurred the lines between state agency resources and campaign activities – for years. Here are some examples:
- On May 10, 2018, Brown was the commencement speaker at the University of Colorado Boulder. Over a two-day period, the governor’s office, which includes her security detail, racked up $8,277 in expenses including hotels ($4,148), airline flights ($2,222) and rental car charges ($1,046). The trip was packed with ten campaign events. Brown spent only four hours on Boulder’s campus.
- During the week of February 22, 2018, Brown attended the National Governor’s Association conference in Washington, D.C. Landing two days early, Brown scheduled twelve campaign events. In total, Brown spent a full day and a half of the three-day trip campaigning. Taxpayers paid $11,984 in total charges including airfare ($5,796), the expensive Marriott hotel near the White House ($4,627), car rental ($927), plus food and beverage costs ($600).
- On February 2, 2018, Brown flew to Seattle to share a panel discussion with Governor Jay Inslee on the topic of off-shore drilling. Once she arrived, Brown did four campaign events in six hours. Oregon taxpayers covered nearly $2,000 in costs including airfare ($1,156) and charges at the self-proclaimed “best wine bar in Seattle” ($79).
Brown is exercising the power of incumbency and engaging in old-school politicking on the public’s dime. Repeatedly using taxpayer money to lower the cost of campaigning and leveraging her office to raise campaign cash seems to be a violation of Oregon law, and the governor’s ethics standards.
The report concludes:
As governor, Kate Brown promised a new day in Salem with open and clean governance. She succeeded previous governor John Kitzhaber who resigned after hundreds of thousands in state payments flowed to a nonprofit organization controlled by his live-in girlfriend.
Yet, over the last two-years, our OpenTheBooks.com auditors found Brown soliciting hundreds of state vendors for $518,000 in campaign cash; paying for her personal law license with a state credit card; admitting to using public credit for personal expenses; redacting 4,000 items from her official calendar; and using state agency employees and resources to log and redact 500 campaign events.
By campaigning under the guise of “official” business, Brown is keeping Oregon’s “new day” permanently beyond the horizon.
Let’s hope the people of Oregon take heed and take issue with Gov. Brown’s expenditures and decisions.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.