Kate Brown sworn in as Oregon’s 38th governor

This morning, former Secretary of State Kate Brown was sworn into office as Oregon’s 38th governor.

Brown was sworn in at 9:55 a.m., five minutes before predecessor John Kitzhaber’s resignation took effect at 10 a.m. Brown is the second woman, and first openly bisexual governor, in the state’s history.

Kitzhaber resigned Feb. 13 in the midst of a scandal and ethical investigation of he and his fiancée, Cylvia Hayes. Rumors of Hayes using Kitzhaber’s influence to support her own endeavors have circulated since the last gubernatorial campaign, in October. Kitzhaber denies any involvement.

Kitzhaber was only four weeks into his historic fourth term as Oregon governor.

In his statement of resignation, Kitzhaber pointed to the media as a contributing factor in his decision.

“It is deeply troubling to me to realize that we have come to a place in the history of this great state of ours where a person can be charged, tried, convicted and sentenced by the media with no due process and no independent verification of the allegations involved,” the statement reads.

President of the University of Oregon Student Democrats Celine Swenson-Harris and Joseh Lewis, Chairman of UO Student Republicans, both echoed this sentiment.

“It was not particularly professional,” said Swenson-Harris of some of the media coverage. Swenson-Harris said she thinks Kitzhaber was tried in a court of public opinion.

“Its disconcerting that he had to resign without conviction from the Attorney General,” Lewis said, calling Kitzhaber’s stepping down an “opinion of the masses resignation.”

“It’s hard to say what happened,” said Swenson-Harris. “Without an actual investigation and due process, I don’t think anyone knows.”

The alleged ethics violations against Hayes and Kitzhaber include an unreported $118,000 Hayes received from the Clean Environment Development Center in Washington D.C.

“He’s clearly guilty of something,” Lewis said. Lewis thinks Hayes is just the tip of the iceberg for the corruption in Kitzhaber’s office, citing the missteps with Cover Oregon and the Columbia River Crossing — both failed projects undertaken by Kitzhaber in his time as governor.

“Oregon deserves strong leadership,” Lewis said.

On Monday, Oregon’s House Republicans submitted a number of bills geared towards improving the strength of current ethics laws.

In Brown’s swearing-in ceremony, her address focused on her goals to restore the trust of Oregon’s citizens, as reported by the Oregonian.

Brown pledged that she, her household and staff would not accept any outside compensation during her term as governor. Brown also stated that she desires to strengthen state laws to “ensure timely release of public documents.” She received a standing ovation.

According to state law, Brown will serve as governor until the next biannual election in 2016.



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Jennifer Fleck

Jennifer Fleck

Jennifer is a head correspondent for the Emerald focusing on politics and research. She also specializes in coverage of marijuana legalization in Oregon.