Editorial: Brown shuffles and evades on breaking her spending limit

When Secretary of State Kate Brown declared in September that “she will lead by example and commit to a voluntary $1 million spending limit in her reelection campaign,” we took her at her word.

She’s now gone past her limit.

It’s in these moments that voters can take the measure of politicians. How do they explain away the inconsistency? Do they confess to a mistake? Do they issue an apology? Do they try to make it right? Or do they shuffle and evade?

Brown is a shuffler.

Of course, it’s not Brown’s fault.

Jillian Schoene, Brown’s campaign spokeswoman, says it’s not Brown’s fault. Brown got in-kind spending from unions buying ads against her opponent, Bend surgeon Knute Buehler. That’s the money that pushed her over her limit.

Of course, Brown knew nothing about that effort.

Schoene said Brown knew nothing about it until after it started.

Of course, Brown tried to stop it knowing that it could drive her spending over her voluntary $1 million limit.

Brown did not try to stop it, Schoene told the Willamette Week.

Of course, Brown as secretary of state, accepts that when the Secretary of State’s website reports that she has $1,082,617.56 in spending, that is how much she has spent.

Schoene says no. That’s not how Brown counts the money she has spent. She doesn’t include in-kind contributions.

Of course, Brown has asked for changes in how Oregon’s website reports campaign contributions to reflect the accounting standard she believes is correct.

No, she has not.

Voters should be able to see clean into the marrow of what Brown has done. She could have taken the opportunity to show how this episode illustrates one of the fundamental challenges in campaign finance reform. Money finds a way around limits.

Instead, Brown made a pledge, failed to live up to it, and shuffled from one excuse to another.