- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 11, 2018

The Oregon Republican Party filed a complaint Wednesday against Democratic Gov. Kate Brown over multiple allegations that she used public funds for campaign purposes.

The complaint cited a Project Veritas sting in which former Brown campaign manager Michael Kolenc alleged he was fired in 2016 because Ms. Brown’s chief-of-staff wanted to run the political operation, a violation of state law.

Ms. Brown has also packed campaign fundraisers into her government-paid trips for official business, such as a two-day trip in May in which she gave a commencement address in Boulder, Colorado, and hit 10 campaign events at a cost to the state of $8,277, according to a Forbes investigation.

“These reports show a clear pattern of unethical behavior and misuse of public funds,” Oregon GOP chair Bill Currier said in a statement. “This is particularly concerning since her predecessor resigned under an ethical cloud of similar allegations. Voters deserve a full investigation and to know the truth prior to the November election.”

Ms. Brown, who is seeking re-election against Republican state Rep. Knute Buehler, replaced Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber after he resigned in February 2015 amid a criminal investigation into findings that he used his political office for personal gain.

The GOP complaint also asked the Oregon Government Ethics Commission to review whether the governor engaged in influence peddling by accepting $500,000 in campaign donations from state contractors.

In a hidden-camera video released Monday, Mr. Kolenc told a Project Veritas investigator that he was forced out as campaign manager in 2016 because the governor’s chief of staff wanted to run the political and government operations.

“The chief of staff wanted to be the chief of everything, wanted to run the governor’s world whether it was government side or political side,” Mr. Kolenc said on video. “They wanted to be one person in charge of everything. You really can’t have one person in charge of everything because of the legal limitations on your time.”

Such overlap represents a potential violation of state law as well as the governor’s 2015 ethics policy prohibiting her staff from using work time or resources “to conduct political activities.”

Asked whether the governor knew about it, Mr. Kolenc said, “She had to have known.”

Brown campaign spokesman Christian Gaston dismissed the video, telling Oregon Public Radio that Project Veritas was brought in to “bail out Knute Buehler’s campaign,” which the Buehler camp denied.

“Every single claim in this desperate alt-right propaganda is wrong,” Mr. Gaston said.

Democratic Party of Oregon chair Jeanne Atkins described Mr. Kolenc’s allegations as sour grapes.

“Michael Kolenc is a disgruntled and discredited political operative who was fired years ago and moved to Texas. There’s nothing new in any of his griping that this sham group caught on hidden camera,” she told OPR.

Meanwhile, Mr. Currier said that Oregon taxpayers “have seen little transparency of accountability from this Governor.”

“We now have multiple sources, including a former senior campaign staffer, claiming the governor has violated ethics laws. We need an independent investigation from OGEC to get the facts,” he said.

Lars Larson, a conservative radio talk-show host at KXL in Portland, said he was “not surprised at all that Kate Brown has been cheating.”

“What is a surprise is to get Veritas to actually get it on tape so we can document the cheating, because this woman has been a corrupt governor since she became governor,” Mr. Larson told Project Veritas.


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