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‘Sad day for Oregon’: Reaction pours in to governor resignation


The first resignation of a sitting Oregon governor due to scandal has sparked an expected flood of reaction, from elected officials and others. Here’s the statements we’ve received, in full:

Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown (in line to be the next governor):

This is a sad day for Oregon. But I am confident that legislators are ready to come together to move Oregon forward. I know you all have a lot of questions, and I will answer them as soon as possible. As you can imagine, there is a lot of work to be done between now and Wednesday .

Sen. Ron Wyden:

“Oregonians want government to focus on their needs rather than investigations and charges and counter-charges.Oregonians have a right to expect the highest ethical standards from their government, and today’s announcement by Governor Kitzhaber acknowledges that reality.In the days ahead, we will refocus with our new Governor Kate Brown on the goal all Oregonians share – making the best state in America even better.”

Sen. Jeff Merkley:

“John Kitzhaber loves Oregon deeply and has contributed enormously to making our state a better place. Today, he did what was right for Oregon by resigning.

“I know that our incoming Governor, Kate Brown, will continue the fight for our Oregon values, from clean air and clean water to a robust economy, and I look forward to working with her.”

Rep. Greg Walden:

“John Kitzhaber has a long record of dedicated public service but sadly the circumstances of his resignation leave another stain on a chapter of Oregon history. If what we have all read is true, this may well go down as one of Oregon government’s darkest moments. Many Oregonians are left wondering, how much more is to come? Will those who bankrolled what looks like influence peddling be brought to justice, too? Just how infested is our state government?”

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum:

Today is a sad day for Oregon. I want to thank Governor Kitzhaber for his service to our state. The governor’s decision to resign will not affect our ongoing criminal investigation into allegations of his and Ms. Hayes’ conduct. Oregonians deserve nothing less than a full and fair investigation of all the facts, as well as the opportunity to reach a resolution that will truly allow our state to move forward.”

Oregon Treasurer Ted Wheeler:

“A great Oregonian – Steve ‘Pre’ Prefontaine – once said that ‘to give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.’ This captures a value that I consider core – and it guides me as I do my part to serve the people of our state.

“Katrina and I have a young daughter who represents the seventh generation of my family to call Oregon home. Our state has achieved many things of which Oregonians are justifiably proud. Yet we also know that our state has not lived up to its full potential: outcomes in our public schools lag the nation, our rural economy is hurting, basic infrastructure is crumbling around us, and too many of our citizens suffer with mental health issues, poverty, hunger and homelessness.

“Our failure to meaningfully confront these issues puts us in danger of sacrificing the gift handed down to us by previous generations of Oregonians.

“The events of the last several months have tested the confidence of Oregonians in our government at a time when we need to focus on the challenges facing our state. I know there is much more that I can – and must – do at this critical time to help our state realize its full potential. In the immediate-term, this means ensuring that Governor Brown is as successful as possible during her transition. I have offered to help in any way I can.

“I have been around long enough to know that the resignation of Governor Kitzhaber and the constitutional mandate for an election in 2016 will set off a flurry of speculation about what happens next. There will be a time for politics, but now is not that time. In the coming days, Oregonians should pull together to support Governor Brown and her team in their efforts to bring stability to the Governor’s office.

“I thank Governor Kitzhaber for his many years of service to our state. I wish him the very best in the years ahead. Oregonians are a resilient people, and I am certain that we will emerge from this difficult period as a stronger and more unified state.”

Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney:

“He served in the Oregon House as a Representative. He served in the Oregon State Senate. He was the President of the Oregon State Senate for a record number of years. He was elected and served as Oregon’s governor for more than 12 years – longer than anyone else. No public servant has given more to Oregon.

“And there is another side. He is a friend. He is a son. He is a brother. He is a father. He is a human being.

“It is all of these things for which I hope he is remembered. I hope all of these things are his legacy. He deserves that. Governor John Albert Kitzhaber, MD. I am sorry.

“I know that together Oregon and her people will get through this.”

Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek:

“Governor John Kitzhaber has accomplished much for Oregonians in his 35 years of public service to our state. As a physician, as a legislator, and as our Governor, he has been a distinguished leader.

“In 2011, I worked closely with the Governor during his signature effort to transform how health care is delivered to low-income Oregonians under the Oregon Health Plan. That work fundamentally changed health care in Oregon, and will benefit families throughout our state for years to come.

“I support his decision to resign because it is the right decision for Oregonians.

“Moving forward, I will continue to champion the priorities we have shared in the areas of equity in educational outcomes, quality early childhood education, and rural economic development.

“The Oregon Legislature will meet the challenges facing Oregon and stands ready to show that even in the most trying times, we are committed to doing the right thing for the people of our state.”

Oregon Senate Republican Leader Ted Ferrioli:

“This is an unprecedented situation for Oregonians. I expect our leaders to work together to lead a thoughtful transition that respects Oregon citizens. We need to restore trust and accountability with the Governor’s office and the executive branch.”

Oregon House Republican Leader Mike McLane:

” Today is a sad day for Oregon. I take no delight in John Kitzhaber’s resignation but understand his decision. House Republicans have remained focused on working for the people of Oregon and that’s where our focus will remain moving forward.”

Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian:

Today, we learned that John Kitzhaber will step down as Governor after a career of public service that’s improved people’s lives and helped expand opportunity to thousands around the state. It is my hope that we view his legacy not just through the narrow prism of these recent months, but the full scope of his decades of service.

As Secretary of State Kate Brown takes the helm of Oregon government, I know that her colleagues and I stand with her as we embark on a new chapter for our state.

The Bureau of Labor and Industries and I stand ready to help Kate Brown with the challenge of putting working families on stronger economic footing in the weeks and months ahead. Oregon has a bright future and we will do all we can to see that our state and new governor be successful as we move forward.

Oregon Business Association:

In response to the recent announcement that Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber has made a decision to resign, OBA Board Chair Mark Long has issued the following statement:

“Having worked with Governor John Kitzhaber since the founding of OBA in 1999, we are deeply saddened by the recent developments and his announcement of resignation from office.

We as an organization have enjoyed a constructive and productive relationship with the Governor and have great respect for his past accomplishments and effectiveness as a legislator, governor and statesman. We are saddened by the recent turn of events, but will remain focused on our agenda and the welfare of the state.

In this difficult time, when the citizens of Oregon are reeling at the news of the first resignation of a Governor due to a matter of this nature, we at OBA believe it is important to remember the achievements of Governor Kitzhaber. From health care reform to the 2013 Grand Bargain, John Kitzhaber did build that vital center of Oregon politics and embodied statesmanlike leadership and represented the “balanced voice” OBA stands for.

Moving forward, we will continue to focus on OBA ‘s mission of achieving balanced policy solutions to strengthen quality of life and the state’s long-term economic competitiveness.

We are determined to continue on a positive path, working hard and with diligence as we do every session, on achieving important policy objectives on behalf of our members, the Oregon business community, and the citizens of Oregon.”

Democratic Party of Oregon:

Democratic Party of Oregon Chair Frank Dixon released the following statement in response to Governor Kitzhaber’s announcement that he would resign as governor:

“Today’s announcement is a sad but necessary step for Governor John Kitzhaber, who has worked hard over 35 years of public service to deliver jobs and a better future to all Oregonians.

We expect an effective transition to Governor Kate Brown, working with elected Democratic leaders on important legislation underway to expand opportunity, fight for working families and the middle class, and protect critical services for our state.

Kate Brown has a strong legacy of championing transparency in government, reducing elections fraud, and fighting for the right to vote and for equality for all Oregonians. She’s been nationally recognized for her efforts, currently serving as President of the National Association of Secretaries of State.

With six terms in the Oregon Legislature, including service as Senate Majority Leader, and six years as Oregon’s second in command, Kate Brown is prepared and ready to lead on day one.”

Human Rights Campaign:

Today , the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, responded to the news that Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber will resign effective Wednesday, February 18 , and be replaced by Secretary of State Kate Brown , who is openly bisexual. HRC President Chad Griffin issued the following statement:

“Few are better prepared to lead the great state of Oregon than Kate Brown . She’s a known commodity to Oregonians with a distinguished record of service of over two decades. And while she’ll make history as the nation’s first sitting LGBT governor, the more important truth is that she’s supremely capable of leading the state to better days ahead.”


— “I am deeply disturbed by those who believe in due process for violent criminals yet abandon that bedrock principle in the case of a duly-elected governor. He served our State with distinction. His career didn’t deserve to come to this premature end.” — Jim McDermott, Kitzhaber’s lawyer.

— “I am saddened by the news of Gov. John Kitzhaber’s resignation from office. However, the scandal has rocked Salem at the start of an all-important legislative session. Today, the governor acted in the best interests of Oregonians, and of state government.” — Portland Mayor Charlie Hales.

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