Kevin Reed’s office tried to hide cap & trade lobbying records

5/17/2019 update:

The Oregonian’s Rob Davis reveals still more of the documents UO tried to hide from the public, including more new information about the redactions by Kevin Reed’s Public Record Office.

If I understand the story right, Reed’s office let the lobbying group decide what UO should redact from UO’s public records. They made some interesting choices. Weird. Full story here with links to all the records:

What UO didn’t want the public to know about industry group’s climate bill opposition

… The newly released documents documents include the alliance’s legislative updates, lobbyist reports and memorandums to members. The university originally contended portions of the documents were protected by the attorney-client privilege and by an exemption allowing material submitted confidentially to be withheld in very narrow circumstances.

Ed Finklea, the alliance’s natural gas director, told The Oregonian/OregonLive it was the energy alliance’s attorney who made the redactions when the university released the records. Molly Blancett, a school spokeswoman, said the university “always solicits the input of third parties when it comes to their records that have made their way to the university’s possession.”

The clean documents show a consistent theme in what was initially redacted: References to potential benefits of Brown’s proposed climate change bill. …

5/14/2019 update:

I have it from a generally reliable source that, as of yesterday, UO has withdrawn its membership in AWEC, the industry group that is lobbying against Governor Brown’s Cap and Trade legislation.

5/12/2019: It backfired. Rob Davis has the story in the Oregonian, here. A few snippets:

… along with Oregon Health and Science University, UO is a member of the Alliance of Western Energy Consumers, a group lobbying to kill the governor’s climate change agenda. One of the energy group’s leaders during a recent interview cast doubt whether greenhouse gases are causing the earth’s temperatures to rise. It’s a position at odds with the findings of scientists worldwide.

OHSU pays the group $21,000 in annual membership dues. UO, which joined the group last November, pays $13,000, records show.

… hundreds of pages of internal documents show that university administrators were aware of the energy group’s opposition to Brown’s climate plan and knew it would be controversial.

When University of Oregon officials released the records, they deleted references to the group’s opposition, asserting attorney-client privilege. But OHSU provided some of the same documents without redactions.

Reached by The Oregonian/OregonLive, [UO Director of Utilities and Energy Tony Hardenbrook] said he was happy to discuss the school’s participation in the alliance. But he said he first needed authorization from university public relations officials. “I have nothing to hide,” Hardenbrook said.

The university refused to allow Hardenbrook to be interviewed by The Oregonian/OregonLive.

Thanks to a reader for the link.

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14 Responses to Kevin Reed’s office tried to hide cap & trade lobbying records

  1. Dog says:

    I know Tony quite well.

    Very good and forthright guy

    Did time as an engineer in the Navy on a submarine

    He follows orders so if he has been ordered not to
    speak – he will follow that order – that too is a form
    of integrity

    • uomatters says:

      Yes, it seems clear from the story Mr. Hardenbrook did nothing wrong. He wanted to explain, but the administration was afraid of what he might say.

      And let me add, having worked for 2 Navy trained submariners in a former job as a marine electrician, Respect.

  2. Dennis Dugan says:

    I am not a lawyer, but I have been told that citing attorney-client privilege improperly is an ethics violation.

    I could be wrong.

  3. Lawbreakers says:

    The UO broke the law here. Not only the Oregon Public Records Law, but ORS 260.432, which prohibits using public funds for lobbying. Lock them up.

    • uomatters says:

      I don’t see that prohibits using public funds for lobbying. UO has a whole office of “Government and Community Relations” see, which advertises:

      State Affairs coordinates the activities of the university on matters relating to its state financial support and legislative priorities. Staff members serve as the liaison to the Higher Education Coordinating Commission and Oregon Legislature and monitor legislative and policy initiatives. They also manage the university’s advocacy program and staff legislative committees of the UO Foundation Board of Trustees and UO Alumni Association Board of Directors.

      In short, they use public funds to lobby the legislature and governor. The UO administration also hires contract lobbying firms through its normal contracting process. They report these costs to the Oregon Government Ethics Commission. It’s a lot of money – presumably from student tuition.

      While I think it’s worth asking whether or not our lobbyists are lobbying for the right things, and whether they are effective at much beyond bringing in money for Duck athletics, the IAAF Championships, and the Knight Campus, I don’t see how this is illegal. Maybe it should be. Please explain.

      • lawbreakers says:

        Stand corrected. It appears the statute is more about measures and candidates before voters than the legislature. Not illegal but maybe it should be. WhAt if two government bodies are in a lobbying spending war against each other. A big waste of public resources. Also, what if government CEOs spent big to lobby for bills to increase their salaries? Not in the public interest.

        As for the records law, it’s a law and it was broken.

  4. Publius says:

    Thanks to U of O Matters for bringing this to people’s attention.

  5. Richard Bohloff says:

    The word at the JH liquor vat is that UO has learned their usual takeaway, which is don’t get caught and don’t do business with leakers. You can’t know if documents should really be privileged if you never see them.

  6. Darby says:

    Today’s Schill missive (“Open Mike”) regarding a whole different issue includes the nuggets below. Transparency? Trust? Bwa ha ha ha ha ha!

    “Transparency is the best policy. Whenever possible administrators should be as forthcoming as possible, subject to the privacy rights of members of our community.

    Let’s learn to trust. I get it, we have all become desensitized to being lied to by leaders and institutions we are supposed to trust. It is a sad commentary on our national political climate that we are not shocked by it anymore. However, universities are communities of scholars, and academic communities are built on trust with a healthy dose of skepticism thrown in. Skepticism is a good thing in moderation, but let’s stop assuming that our colleagues—even those who are administrators—are driven by malevolent or self-serving motives. And let’s stand up against those in our community who spread innuendo and seek to undermine trust with falsehoods.”

    • Deplorable Duck says:

      I thought Schill’s post, together with the UOPD and Admin handling of this difficult situation were professional and humane. He’s worth every dollar he’s getting.

      As for the members of our community that outed this poor kid or bought into this hysteria, for shame.

    • Richard Bohloff says:

      “(Insert any UO employee) was not made available in response to media requests for comment.”

      It’s a very smart strategy, preach total transparency and don’t ever give someone the chance to use it.

    • Furious Green Ideas says:

      I’m a bit of a Luddite so I missed the social media posts, but the impression I’m left with from Schill’s email is that a student mental health crisis is being invoked to scold anyone “kibitzing at the faculty club, or commenting on an online forum” with criticisms of administration.

      Apart from being a non sequitur, does this strike anyone else as a bit tone deaf and distasteful, or am I just being cynical?

      • Darby says:

        Furious GI:

        I agree with you and Richard Bohloff, and disagree Deplorable Duck.

        The UO Administration is as opaque as they can get away with. Implying/stating otherwise is disingenuous, bordering on gaslighting.

        This does NOTHING to engender trust in the organization or the people in leadership.