By, Pat Dooris
I don't know about you---but I don't really like confronting people. It makes me uncomfortable---and I worry about how they'll react---will they say or do something they would not ordinarily do and make themselves look like something they are not?
Which is not to say I won't do it if I have to.
Tuesday I began a second day of trying to get a comment from Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski. I wanted him to respond to a complaint letter filed with the Oregon State Bar which basically charged the governor had lied to the public about what he knew and when he knew former Governor Neil Goldschmidt had sexually abused a 14 year old girl.
He'd told us on tape in 2004 that he did not know anything about that until it became public in 2004. But Goldschmidt's former speech writer says that's a lie---that he personally told Kulongoski about the abuse in the early 90's---because Kulongoski was about to run for Attorney General and Goldschmidt was going to be part of the campaign team.
I thought the public deserved an updated answer in light of the bar complaint.
I'd talked to his press secretary Monday and she said he was not available because he was taking part in the Top Off drill.
I called and talked to her twice Tuesday and was told the same thing. My assistant news director and I called one more time on Tuesday and made it clear that if the governor did not make time for us, even five minutes, we would have to ask him about it during a news conference scheduled to talk about Top Off.
We suggested talking about it a moment before or after the press conference to keep the two separate. His staff refused.
So, after the news conference began, and after the Governor and others had a chance to say their piece about top off---I waited. I wanted other journalists to get a chance to ask the governor or others what they wanted about the drill. But I also worried his staff would whisk the governor away without giving me a chance to ask my question.
After three questions to the federal guy running Top Off---I asked my question. " Governor---the state bar is reviewing a complaint that you lied to the public about the Goldschmidt abuse---is that true sir?"
Half way through the question the moderator, who had warned us twice that they would not allow any questions off the topic of Top Off began to cut me off. He told me to refer my question to the press secretary. I cut him off---stating this was the only place the governor was available. There was no other time.
With that the governor turned on his heel and said "lets go!" and walked off the stage.
The reason I ignored the "no questions off the topic" rule is because I had no choice. I believe the public has a right to hear from the top elected official in the state on this topic. I personally like and respect Ted Kulongoski and expected him to easily brush off the question---noting he'd answered it before and the answer had not changed.
I have no idea why he walked off without answering.
I hope he answers the question soon.