Kate Brown (politician)

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Kate Brown
Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown, cropped.jpg
24th Oregon Secretary of State
Assumed office
January 5, 2009
Preceded by Bill Bradbury
Member of the Oregon Senate
from the 21st district
In office
January 13, 1997 – January 2, 2009
Preceded by Shirley Gold
Succeeded by Diane Rosenbaum
Member of the Oregon House of Representatives
from the 13th district
In office
November 26, 1991[1] – January 12, 1997
Preceded by Judy Bauman
Succeeded by Dan Gardner
Personal details
Born (1960-06-21) June 21, 1960 (age 54)
Torrejón de Ardoz, Spain
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Dan
Residence Portland, Oregon[2]
Alma mater University of Colorado, Lewis and Clark College
Occupation Attorney, University professor

Kate Brown (born June 21, 1960) is an American politician and member of the Democratic Party. She currently serves as the Oregon Secretary of State and was elected to that office in the 2008 elections.[3] She was re-elected to a second term in 2012.

Prior to becoming Secretary of State, Brown served in the Oregon State Senate representing Oregon's 21st senate district, which includes portions of Northeast and Southeast Portland and Milwaukie. As Oregon does not have a lieutenant governor, Brown is first in line to succeed to the office of governor if the governor should become unable to perform the duties of the office.

Early life[edit]

Brown was born in Torrejón de Ardoz, Spain where her father was serving in the United States Air Force, but was raised mostly in Minnesota. She earned a B.A. in Environmental Conservation with a certificate in Women’s Studies from the University of Colorado at Boulder, and a law degree and Certificate in Environmental Law from the Northwestern School of Law at Lewis and Clark College.



Brown has taught at Portland State University, and practiced family and juvenile law. She was a family attorney with the Juvenile Rights Project, a non-profit corporation in Portland, providing legal services to children and families with both defense and advocacy programs.


She began her legislative career in 1991 in the Oregon House of Representatives, where she was reelected to a second term before being elected to the Senate in 1996. Two years later, she was elected Senate Democratic Leader and in 2004, senators made her the first woman to serve as Oregon's Senate Majority Leader.

In July 2007, Brown announced that she would give up her seat in the Oregon Senate to be a candidate for Oregon Secretary of State in 2008.[4] On May 20, 2008, Brown won the election for the Democratic nomination for Secretary of State, and on November 5 she won the general election by a 51-46% margin against Republican candidate Rick Dancer.[5]

In 2009, the Aspen Institute named Brown as one of 24 "Rising Stars" in American politics and awarded her with a Rodel Fellowship. The program is a two-year fellowship designed to break down partisan barriers and explore the responsibilities of public leadership and good governance.[6]

Oregon Secretary of State[edit]

Audits Division[edit]

Coming into office, one of Brown’s priorities was to perform rigorous performance audits to help balance the budget. In 2008 for every dollar the state spent on performance audits returned $8 in cost savings. In 2010, Brown reported she delivered $64 in cost savings and efficiencies for every dollar invested in the division.[7]

Corporation Division[edit]

The Corporation Division is the first place where businesses go. Brown is implementing Governor Vic Atiyeh's vision of a one-stop-shop for businesses, where they can get everything they need in one place, at the same time. In 2012, Brown launched Oregon's business portal to make it easier for business to start, expand, and access the services they need like loans and licensing.[8]

Elections Division[edit]

In 2009, Brown introduced and passed House Bill 2005 to crack down on fraud and abuse in the initiative and referendum system. It gave the Secretary of State more power to prosecute fraud and enforce the constitutional ban on paying per signature on initiatives.

The Ballot Initiative Strategy Center released its annual report card in August 2011 to assess the level of accountability, transparency, and integrity in the 24 states where citizens are able to place measures on the ballot. Because of the reforms Brown helped pass, Oregon received the highest grade in the nation.[9]

Brown also implemented online voter registration. On March 1, 2010, online voter registration celebrated its one-year anniversary. Oregon Public Broadcasting noted nearly 87,000 Oregonians had already registered to vote online.[10]

In 2012, the Military Voter Protection Project awarded Brown for her "extraordinary efforts" after eliminating barriers to military voter participation.[11]

StateTech Magazine featured Brown in October 2012 for her innovative use of iPad and tablet technology to increase accessibility for voters with disabilities.[12] In 2011, Oregon became the first jurisdiction in the country to use this technology to help voters with disabilities mark their ballots.

Personal life[edit]

Brown lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband Dan. She has two stepchildren Dylan and Jessie. She identifies as bisexual and was America's first openly bisexual statewide officeholder.[3][5][13][14][15]

Awards and distinctions[edit]


  1. ^ Judy Bauman resigned November 1, 1991 to accept appointment as Administrator of the Community Services Division; Kate Brown appointed November 26, 1991 to fill vacancy.
  2. ^ "Biography of Secretary of State Kate Brown". Oregon Secretary of State. Retrieved 2011-12-30. 
  3. ^ a b Walsh, Edward (2008-11-05). "Democrats sweep to capture statewide jobs". The Oregonian. Retrieved 2008-11-05. 
  4. ^ Kost, Ryan (2007-07-10). "Senator joins secretary of state race". The Oregonian. Retrieved 2007-07-11. 
  5. ^ a b Bajko, Matthew S. (2007-11-22). "Political Notebook: Bisexual, lesbian politicians stump in SF". Bay Area Reporter. Retrieved 2008-05-15. 
  6. ^ "Selects 24 "Rising Stars" in Governance For Its Rodel Fellowships in Public Leadership Program". The Aspen Institute. 2009-07-29. Retrieved 2012-03-19. 
  7. ^ Kost, Ryan. "Says for every dollar the state spent on audits last year, it delivered $64 in cost savings.". PolitiFact. Retrieved 2013-03-19. 
  8. ^ Barron-Lopez, Laura. "Kate Brown launches new online portal for Oregon business owners". Oregonian. Retrieved 2012-09-14. 
  9. ^ "2011 State-by-State Report Card". Ballot Initiative Strategy Center. Retrieved 2013-03-19. 
  10. ^ Foden-Vencil, Kristian. "Online Voter Registration Celebrates First Anniversary". Oregon Public Broadcasting. Retrieved 2013-03-19. 
  11. ^ Snyder, Liz. "Iowa, New Jersey, Oklahoma and Oregon Recognized for Extraordinary Efforts to Protect Military Voters". Military Voter Protection Project. Retrieved 2013-09-14. 
  12. ^ Wong, Wylie. "How iPads Are Making Voting More Accessible in Oregon". StateTech Magazine. Retrieved 2012-10-10. 
  13. ^ http://www.portlandmercury.com/portland/walking-bi/Content?oid=2610445
  14. ^ http://outhistory.org/wiki/Kate_Brown
  15. ^ http://www.ebar.com/news/article.php?sec=news&article=2466

External links[edit]