With less than two weeks until election day, Governor Kate Brown may be forced to reveal policy plans she's kept under wraps throughout her campaign.
In a Wednesday court ruling, a Marion County judge ordered Brown's office to release legislative drafts for roughly 250 bills planned for next year's legislative session. The request, prompted by the state's denial of a routine public records request from an Oregon attorney, must be fulfilled no later than 5 pm Friday, according to Circuit Court Judge Audrey Broyles.
The legislative drafts could answer some questions Brown's dodged throughout the campaign—specifically, how her sweeping education plan will be funded. In interviews with the Mercury and other news outlets, Brown hasn't clarified how exactly she plans on funding her "seven-point plan" that promises to expand the school year, reduce class sizes, improve preschool for low-income students, and expand secondary education options.
Brown told the Mercury that the funding would be hammered out after she met with education stakeholders across the state. But that it would likely rely on some taxpayer dollars. "It's unrealistic that my opponent thinks this can be solved without raising revenue," she said.
Her opponent, Republican gubernatorial candidate Knute Buehler, has prioritized spending cuts to the state’s public employee retirement system (PERS) to mend the state's sub-par school system—before raising taxes.
The Portland attorney requesting these legislative drafts, Greg Chaimov, says when he's requested these drafts before past legislative sessions, they've been quickly handed over by Brown's office. Chaimov shares these drafts—which are public record—with his business clients to help them plan out lobbying tactics.
Chaimov's clients include Associated General Contractors, Oregon Trucking Associations, Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association, Oregon Medical Association, and the Northwest Grocery Association. Some of these groups are known critics of Brown's past and present policies. According to the Oregonian, Chaimov also represents Priority Oregon, a business-led dark money group that's run some sinister attack ads against Brown.
The state plans to block the record release through an appeal to the Marion County court, according to state attorney Sarah Weston.
Yesterday's ruling fell on the same day Oregon's Department of Education Director Colt Gill released statewide school ratings—a decision he made originally planning to release the scorecard after the November 9 election. Brown's critics—including Buehler—claimed this delay was an attempt to shield Brown from criticism regarding the state's faltering schools before the election.