Oregon Capitol Watch Foundation filed a formal ethics complaint today with the Oregon Ethics Commission against Governor Kate Brown based on this Forbes magazine article by Adam Andrzejewski yesterday. We did this because the Governor continues to exhibit the same incompetence or intentional non-transparency that we experienced with previous public records requests.
It's time to hold her accountable.
And we aren't alone as many editorial boards have taken the Governor to task for talking transparency in the wake of the Kitzhaber scandals but doing just the opposite.
In this case, her office filed deceptive and misleading required lobbying reports that show she wasn't spending any taxpayer money on lobbying when in reality she spent over $165,000.
So for the last 21 months any citizen looking at the ethics website would have erroneously been left with the impression that the Governor wasn't spending their taxdollars lobbying when if fact she was.
That's not right and it needs to be investigated by the ethics commission.
The complaint alleges the following:
1. The Office of Governor completed electronic filing of Employer Lobbyist Expenditure reports each quarter from April 1, 2016 to December 31, 2017 showing $0 in expenses. Conversely, the Office of Governor loaded $165,489 in compensation expenses to the backend of the Oregon Ethics Commission website. The Office of Governor knew for 21 months that the publicly disclosed "$0 spent on lobbying" was a materially false representation. The Office of Governor did nothing to correct the problem until exposed by an editorial published at Forbes.
2. In the backend upload of additional information from the 2nd quarter 2016 on the Oregon Ethics Commission website, the Office of Governor disclosed a total of $11,885 in compensation expenditures vs. an actual sum amounting to $24,510.
3. In all seven quarters, the Office of Governor is not disclosing any pro rata share of office overhead expenses. In addition to disclosing a pro rata share of staff compensation spent on lobbying, a state agency must also disclose a pro rata share of all other expenses, i.e. overhead costs. The Office of Governor has disclosed nothing in this regard since at least 2nd quarter 2016 to the current time.
4. The Office of Governor is disclosing $0 on reimbursed expenses of all 52 lobbyists since at least 2nd quarter 2016. Again, this has to be a mistake.
5. All 52 lobbyist's employed by the office of the Governor have filed materially false and misleading statements showing $0 of lobbyist expenditures - even reimbursed expenditures.
6. The Office of Governor is listing Governor Kate Brown on its Employer Lobbyist Expenditure report with $10,201 in lobby compensation. However, the governor is expressly exempt from registering as a lobbyist and lobbyist disclosures under Oregon state law. In this instance, over-reporting skews the numbers that the public is privy to reviewing.