New Oregon Secretary of State Clarno – Firings, Resignations, Accusations

When Oregon Secretary of State Dennis Richardson died earlier this year, Bev Clarno was tapped to fill his shoes until the 2020 election, and after only two weeks on the job, she has gone on a firing spree.

In her first few days, Clarno canned chief of staff Debra Royal, legal affairs director Steve Elzinga and deputy secretary Leslie Cummings. Next, on April 5, Clarno sent a letter to Larry Morgan, the office’s citizen engagement and inclusion coordinator, announcing his contract will not be renewed when it expires at the end of June.

OPB reached Morgan on Thursday, and he told the news organization, “I was really hoping and praying that I could have an opportunity to sit down with the secretary and talk about the work of diversity equity and inclusion,” Morgan said. “There have been several meetings that have been canceled.”

Morgan,  a black Democrat, was hired by Richardson, an older white Republican. Morgan told OPB Richardson  was seeking to improve his own cultural competency.  Morgan also helped initiate Oregon’s Kid Governor program and annual diversity conferences.

THEN LAST WEEK, ANOTHER BOMBSHELL

Last week, Richardson’s  controversial liaison to the State Board of Education, Kim Sordyl resigned.

Richardson appointed Sordyl to the state education board as his nonvoting designee when he took office in January 2017. Sordyl, a Democrat, had been a vocal supporter of Richardson during the 2016 election. She has also been a publicly critical of the Portland Public Schools.

Her resignation comes a year after legislators unsuccessfully attempted to pass a bill requiring nonvoting liaisons from the secretary of state or state treasurer be staff members, which would have forced Sordyl out. Sordyl’s resignation letter was critical of Clarno.

“Your actions are not only disappointing, but they demonstrate your own lack of understanding of the value that [Richardson] and his team brought us,” wrote Sordyl. “Rather than embracing those qualified leaders, your first priority was hiring your son.”

Clarno’ son, Randy Hilderbrand is serving as a volunteer in the secretary of state’s office.

Notably, Julia Brim-Edwards, a Nike executive and member of the Portland Public Schools board of directors is also a volunteer in Clarno’s office. A school’s audit conducted by the secretary of state’s office under Richardson was highly critical of PPS.