Oregon Gov. Kate Brown allegedly created the position of the Oregon public records advocate to further transparency in Oregon government. And given the state’s well-deserved reputation for being anything but, it sounded like a good idea at the time.
Unfortunately, after just 18 months on the job, Ginger McCall — the first appointee to fill the post —resigned due to concerns about her ability to perform her duties ethically.
From the sound of things, Brown inadvertently hired an actual watchdog to guard the henhouse when what she really wanted was a fox.
McCall voiced frustrations that, almost from the moment she took the job, she was pushed and pressured from members of Brown’s office to do the bidding of the governor rather than ensuring Brown and her cronies played by the rules.
Further, McCall was advised to conceal the reality that she was expected to be little more than a hired stooge.
Brown’s actions should surprise no one. She has a history of contempt for transparency, and heralding the creation of public records advocate position as a milestone in open government then ordering the person hired to do just the opposite is just the sort of cynical action she’s known for.
Public records in Oregon have been a consistently revisited topic within the Legislature on Brown’s watch. And the Freedom Foundation is a major reason why.
The Freedom Foundation has run a successful opt-out campaign informing public-sector employees of their rights regarding union membership, and public record requests are an invaluable tool in that process.
The unions, and their pet politicians, like Brown, are more than aware of this and have attempted to increase public records exemptions in order to stonewall our outreach efforts.
Their most recent legislative attempt to tie our hands was House Bill 2016, introduced during this year’s session. Before being amended, the measure would have prevented the Freedom Foundation from obtaining public employee information as well as emailing them to inform them of their constitutional rights.
Recently, the governor’s office requested the Oregon Sunshine Committee revisit the section of House Bill 2016 having to do with “protecting public employee information.”
In other words, blocking the Freedom Foundation from messaging to them.
If the Freedom Foundation didn’t operate in Oregon, public records wouldn’t even show up on the radar of government unions or the politicians like Brown they keep in their pocket.
But we do, so it is.