“Under my watch, we’ll always have elections you can trust.” Kate Brown, 2008
Here are some examples of what Kate Brown views as “elections you can trust.”
Moving Elections, Not Telling Candidates
Last spring, in a move that surprised even the candidates, Kate Brown moved the election for commissioner of the Bureau of Labor and Industries from May to November. She didn’t bother to tell the candidates, in fact one learned about it when they called to check on the deadline for the Voter’s Pamphlet. The other found out from the media.
The move was widely seen as a partisan one. While the race is non-partisan, a contested Republican presidential primary would have turned out more Republicans in May, while the General Election in November is sure to turn out more Democrats voting to re-elect the president.
Brown said legislation made her do it. But a legal opinion underscored “the fact that Brown’s office badly misread the law in Avakian’s favor.” Nigel Jaquiss, Willamette Week
The Oregonian also explained that that wasn’t the Legislature’s intent at all: “Ironically, legislators didn’t appear to want to move the date of the labor commissioner’s election when they passed the 2009 law, which made several housekeeping changes to state election law. In hearings, the only discussion about the labor commissioner was the need to create a two-year term for the job in 2012. “I just can’t remember ever discussing” the date of the election, said Rep. Vicki Berger, R-Salem, vice chairwoman of the House Rules Committee at the time. Instead, it appears that the language calling for the election to be held “in November 2012″ was standard legal boilerplate.”
“Brown’s insistence that she wasn’t playing politics suggests an alternative explanation: Her Elections Division is inept.” Nigel Jaquiss, Willamette Week
“Willamette Week has called the secretary of state’s handling of this matter “inept.” To a public that was locked out of the process from the beginning and continues to be misled about what occurred, that label may seem much too generous.” Jack Roberts, Oregonlive.com
When pressed recently on this issue during KATU’s Your Voice, Your Vote, Kate Brown refused to answer the question. (At 8:55)
Enforcing Rules Without Following The Law
Kate Brown’s “botched enforcement of state election law“ let two public employees off the hook in 2012 for actions they committed in 2011. The Portland Public School employees were accused of illegally promoted the construction bond by using taxpayer resources.
Brown failed to follow the proper procedure for adopting new administrative rules.
“The problem is, however, that each of the matters (BOLI election date and campaign rules) shows an inattention to detail in an office where the details matter very much. Combined, they raise doubts about Brown’s ability to give her job the kind of close attention it needs.” Bend Bulletin 5/18/12