Kate Brown: ‘Bizarre, unprecedented situation’

Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown would succeed if Kitzhaber steps down

Kate Brown, left, and John Kitzhaber in 2014 (KOIN 6 News, file)
Kate Brown, left, and John Kitzhaber in 2014 (KOIN 6 News, file)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown released a statement Thursday describing the unfolding drama surrounding Gov. John Kitzhaber as a “bizarre and unprecedented situation.”

When she abruptly left a conference in Washington, it wasn’t clear whether her unscheduled return had anything to do with the influence-peddling allegations surrounding Kitzhaber and his fiancee, Cylvia Hayes.

Brown’s spokesman, Tony Green, said Wednesday he didn’t know why Brown left the National Association of Secretaries of State meeting. She’s the organization’s president.

Wednesday night, Kitzhaber said, “I wanted to have a face to face with Kate and make sure she knew what my intentions were.”

The full text of her statement:

Late Tuesday afternoon, I received a call from the Governor while I was in Washington, DC at a Secretaries of State conference. He asked me to come back to Oregon as soon as possible to speak with him in person and alone.

I got on a plane yesterday morning and arrived at 3:40 in the afternoon.  I was escorted directly into a meeting with the Governor.  It was a brief meeting. He asked me why I came back early from Washington, DC, which I found strange. I asked him what he wanted to talk about. The Governor told me he was not resigning, after which, he began a discussion about transition.

This is clearly a bizarre and unprecedented situation.

I informed the Governor that I am ready, and my staff will be ready, should he resign.  Right now I am focused on doing my job for the people of Oregon.

Kitzhaber steadfastly said Wednesday night he does not intend to resign. If he decides to do so in the future, Brown is next in line to be governor.

His confusing statements

Kitzhaber said seemingly contradictory things recently.

When asked whether he’s been considering resigning and whether it has crossed his mind, he said. “Nope. I got elected, people spent a lot of time and money, energy to get me into this position and I owe it to them to do the job as best I can.”

But he also said: “I’ve been getting a lot of pressure from a lot of quarters to do so. Don’t intend to do so. Tuesday, as you know, I went and visited the legislative leadership to get their sense of my presence in terms of the legislative agenda and as a matter of respect I called the Secretary of State, and I think it was also Tuesday and told her I’d like to speak with her.

“We met privately today (Wednesday), and I told her again my intention was not to resign. But she is after all the Vice President, she’s the next in line in any decision to resign, would obviously affect her, but again I have no intention of  resigning the job I was elected to do.”

Section 8a. Vacancy in office of Governor

In case of the removal from office of the Governor, or of his death, resignation, or disability to discharge the duties of his office as prescribed by law, the Secretary of State; or if there be none, or in case of his removal from office, death, resignation, or disability to discharge the duties of his office as prescribed by law, then the State Treasurer; or if there be none, or in case of his removal from office, death, resignation, or disability to discharge the duties of his office as prescribed by law, then the President of the Senate; or if there be none, or in case of his removal from office, death, resignation, or disability to discharge the duties of his office as prescribed by law, then the Speaker of the House of Representatives, shall become Governor until the disability be removed, or a Governor be elected at the next general biennial election. The Governor elected to fill the vacancy shall hold office for the unexpired term of the outgoing Governor. The Secretary of State or the State Treasurer shall appoint a person to fill his office until the election of a Governor, at which time the office so filled by appointment shall be filled by election; or, in the event of a disability of the Governor, to be Acting Secretary of State or Acting State Treasurer until the disability be removed. The person so appointed shall not be eligible to succeed to the office of Governor by automatic succession under this section during the term of his appointment. [Created through initiative petition filed July 7, 1972, and adopted by the people Nov. 7, 1972 (this section adopted in lieu of former section 8 of this Article)]

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