Governor Brown Delivers on Promise to Strengthen Ethics Laws
“Today, I signed into law HB 2019 and HB 2020 that, together with SB 9, signed on June 15, comprise my ethics package.
“The chaos and confusion during the waning days of the Kitzhaber administration, as well as the ensuing federal investigations into allegations of misconduct, caused Oregonians to question their faith in their Governor and state government. When I became Governor, I vowed to restore the public’s trust.
“To that end, I established a senior policy advisor position in the Governor’s Office dedicated to ethics and accountability and appointed Gina Zejdlik to research and draft ethics legislation. As a result of her work, HB 2019, HB 2020 and SB 9 were introduced and passed with strong bipartisan support, achieving the following:
* Established in statute the role of First Partner to the Governor as a public official making clear that the First Partner is subject to Oregon’s ethics and public records laws, including the prohibition on using official position or influence for personal gain.
* Increased penalties in egregious cases for willfully using public office for personal gain.
* Required the First Partner and all policy advisors in the Office of the Governor and the Governor’s legal counsel and deputy legal counsel to each file a statement of economic interest annually.
* Codified my prohibition on the Governor or First Partner accepting money or other consideration for any speaking engagement or presentation given while in office.
* Taking it a step further, extended this prohibition to the four other statewide elected officials including the Secretary of State, State Treasurer, Attorney General and BOLI Commissioner. Using these public platforms to solicit private speaking fees is unacceptable.
* Made important structural changes to the appointment process for membership on the Oregon Government Ethics Commission to distribute the gubernatorial power to nominate its members across additional elected officials.
* Tightened time frames for the Ethics Commission to take action when allegations of ethics laws violations are filed; and
* Through factual information provided by the State Auditor, inform future efforts by the Oregon Attorney General and other state policy makers, including the Governor, to develop and implement consistent, best practices across all state agencies in processing public records requests.
“In responding to the legal and regulatory conundrums that the activities of the Kitzhaber administration have brought to light, my ethics package implements measured, thoughtful and needed changes to the ethics laws — changes that strengthen and clarify existing law, thereby ensuring better outcomes and laying important groundwork as we continue to make further improvements in these areas.
“Most public officials work hard to serve the public good and abide by Oregon’s ethics laws. However, should the public trust be violated in the future, we now have better tools to hold wrongdoers accountable.
“I am grateful to my legislative colleagues for their swift, strong and decisive action in support of these new laws.”