During the 2012 Oregon Legislative Session, SB 1579 was passed. The bill dealt with many different laws. In its original version, introduced February 1, 2012, it had 32 sections and was 24 pages long. In its final form, SB 1579 contained 108 sections and took up 54 pages. Nothing happened with the bill until March 5, 2012. On that day, there was a Senate work session, amendments were offered, the amended bill was then passed by the Senate and sent to the House, which also passed it that same day. SB 1579 was then signed by the Governor on April 11, 2012 and, because it had an Emergency Clause, it became effective April 11, 2012. Due to the length of the bill and the fact that it was amended and then passed by both houses on the same day, it was virtually impossible for any legislator to know what SB 1579 contained.
One thing that SB 1579 did contain was Sections 29 and 30. Those two sections created the Governor’s Office Operating Fund (GOOF) and allowed anyone one to make a gift to the GOOF. Here is the new GOOF law:
SECTION 29. The Governor’s Office Operating Fund is established in the State Treasury, separate and distinct from the General Fund. Moneys in the Governor’s Office Operating Fund are continuously appropriated to the Office of the Governor for the operating expenses of the Office of the Governor. The fund shall consist of moneys appropriated or transferred to the fund and moneys received under section 30 of this 2012 Act.
SECTION 30. The Office of the Governor may receive gifts, grants or contributions from any source, whether public or private. Moneys received under this section shall be deposited in the Governor’s Office Operating Fund established by section 29 of this 2012 Act.
As you can see from Section 30, the GOOF can accept gifts from any source, whether public or private. Sections 29 or 30 require that GOOF gifts be used for expenses of the Governor’s office but nothing in those sections say what an operating expense is or who makes that decision. There is nothing that would prohibit public employee labor unions or anyone else from making large GOOF gifts for the Governor to use as he pleases in the operation of his office. It would be very easy for the Governor or his staff to use a GOOF gift to take actions that would benefit the GOOF giver. Not only that, but there are no reporting requirements for GOOF gifts and the GOOF giver may be entitled to a charitable income tax deduction for the GOOF gift.
I will continue to look into this matter and try to determine: who is responsible for including GOOF in the amendments to the original SB 1579; what expenses of the Governor’s office can be paid for with a GOOF gift; and, who is making GOOF gifts. When I get additional information I will report it with an update to this post.
At least the GOOF is appropriately named. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “goof” as a blunder. Sections 29 and 30 of SB 1579 are about as goofy as a law can be.