Skip to Content

Gov. Brown: No one has asked about a pardon


New Oregon Gov. Kate Brown tackled a wide array of questions at her first news conference Friday, saying she’d not been asked by former governor John Kitzhaber or his staff if she’d pardon him, should that situation arise.

She also said she’ll uphold his moratorium on death-penalty executions for now, pending a broader discussion.

Two days after her swearing in, Brown called it “definitely a bittersweet moment for me.”

Brown lives in Portland and said she will move with her husband into the governor’s mansion in Salem. Kitzhaber used the residence, Mahonia Hall, mostly for ceremonial purposes and stayed usually at his Portland home.

Asked by a reporter if she would pardon the former governor, should he be found guilty of any charges in the ethics scandal that swept him from office, Brown said that any response now would be “speculative,” noting: “The governor has not been charged with anything.”

Brown told reporters that she believes the death penalty should be re-examined.

Kitzhaber announced in 2011 that he would block all executions during his tenure. He was sued unsuccessfully by Gary Haugen, an inmate who wanted to waive his appeals and hasten his death.

Another inevitable question: Will she run for the rest of the abbreviated four-year term in next year’s special election?

“With all due respect,” Brown said, her focus for now is on governing and on the ongoing legislative session, noting that there’s “a budget to pass.”

While declining to back some lawmakers’ calls for a first-step, $8 billion education budget for the biennium – larger than Kitzhaber proposed — Brown said her commitment to education is strong, noting her first act as governor was to visit Rosa Parks Elementary School in northeast Portland on Thursday.

The only legislative priority Brown was ready to list was one she launched as secretary of state – an expanded “motor voter” bill that would register all Oregon drivers as voters, unless they opt out.

“Everything else will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis,” she said.

She said she’ll appoint a new secretary of state by March 6.

Another questioner asked about her stand on another hot topic: Vaccinations and exemptions. Brown said she supports having children vaccinated “unless there’s a medical reason not to.”

Brown also was asked about her unusual statement days before Kitzhaber resigned, saying he’d called her back from a Washington, D.C. visit to meet with him privately – then asked when she’d arrived why she was there. The reporter noted that had raised some issues about Kitzhaber’s mental state.

“My recollection is, that was the first thing he said to me,” she said, adding that she’d released the statement so “Oregonians knew what had happened.”

The new governor said she will urge that more resources be dedicated to the state Government Ethics Commission, calling that “critically important,” and repeated her vow on the day she took office to make sure state workers get “no outside compensation” for work on state business.

“I am optimistic that this can be a bipartisan effort,” Brown said.

Brown said she replaced some key positions but kept others on the governor’s staff on “to have a smooth transition. … The bottom line is, I expect all my staff people to align with my ethics requirements – no outside compensation for state business.”

“This has been an incredibly difficult transition for them, personally and professionally.” Brown said, thanking them for their support.

Asked about the proposal to raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour, Brown said “I certainly support increasing the minimum wage, and I look forward to talking to economists about doing so in a way that is careful and thoughtful.”

“The ball is in the Legislature’s court” on that and other issues, she said, adding that she was looking forward to working with legislative leadership.

Article Topic Follows: News

Jump to comments ↓

KTVZ News Team


KTVZ NewsChannel 21 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content