Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown is sworn in as governor taking over from a fellow Democrat whose decades-long political career crumbled in a corruption scandal involving his fiancée. Linda So reports.
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown was sworn in as governor on Wednesday, taking over from a fellow Democrat whose decades-long political career crumbled in an influence-peddling scandal involving his fiancée. Brown, 54, took the oath of office during a ceremony on the floor of the state House of Representatives in Salem, Oregon's capital, becoming the country's first openly bisexual governor. She replaced John Kitzhaber, who resigned effective Wednesday morning after federal and state corruption probes stemming from allegations that his fiancée, Cylvia Hayes, used her role in his office for personal gain. "Oregon has been in the national news for all the wrong reasons. That changes, starting today," Brown said. "It's time for us to get back to work. It's time to move Oregon forward." Elected in November to an unprecedented fourth four-year term as governor, Kitzhaber has denied any wrongdoing but last week agreed to step down following criticism from prominent fellow Democrats. Following his resignation, there will be another election for governor next year in the West Coast state. Brown, who has touted her work in passing comprehensive civil rights and domestic partnership laws, urged lawmakers to work together and said neither she nor her family would take any outside compensation related to state business. She offered little on her policy agenda. A lack of specifics about her political plans has caused Republicans, including state House Minority Leader Mike McLane, to express concern that a new governor from liberal-dominated Portland might try to lead Oregon Democrats further left. Brown was appointed to the state House of Representatives in 1991. In 2004, she became the first woman to serve as Senate majority leader. As secretary of state, Brown's job has involved overseeing elections, audits and business registrations. She backed a bill to enable Oregonians to register to vote when they get a driver's license, and has worked to create an online campaign donation database. Critics accused her of playing politics when she delayed a 2012 election for labor commissioner, a move perceived by some as helping a fellow Democrat.