PORTLAND — Gov. Kate Brown is open to housing a public records advocate in the Secretary of State's office, rather than under her control.
Brown, who ran on a platform of ethics reform, has proposed creating a records advocate but has repeatedly wavered on who should direct the new position, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported. On Monday, Brown's counsel on government accountability Emily Matasar said the position would be under the Secretary of State.
A bill in the Legislature filed at the request of Brown would create a public records advocate. The advocate would serve as a mediator between journalists, citizens and public agencies.
In the original proposal, the advocate was designed to be housed with the Secretary of State's Office, where the state's archives are housed. But by mid-December, after Republican Dennis Richardson was elected to oversee that office, Brown changed course. A Dec. 15 proposal had her appointing the records advocate to work out of the Department of Administrative Services.
During a Legislative hearing on the bill Monday, Matasar told the Senate Committee On General Government and Accountability that Brown is open to housing the advocate in another office and is in talks with the Secretary of State's office about the possibility of housing the position there.
Stephen Elzinga, the Secretary of State's governmental and legal affairs director, said he looks forward to working with the governor's office on the proposal.
"For a public records advocate to be successful, it is critical that they coordinate closely with the existing public records work being done by the state archives division," he said. "It is also important that the public records advocate both be actually independent and perceived as independent by both public and governmental entities."