December 12th, 2011 11:40 am | by NIGEL JAQUISS News | Posted In: Politics, Schools, Legislature

Nike Sends Kitz a $10,000 Check

KitzhaberGov. John Kitzhaber

When Gov. John Kitzhaber greenlighted the firing of University of Oregon President Richard Lariviere last month, he incurred the wrath of Oregon's richest man, Nike chairman and co-founder Phil Knight.

Here's the statement from Knight that Nike circulated on Nov. 23:

“It deeply saddens me that some people in power in our state continue to drive Oregon into a death spiral with their embrace of mediocrity.  It’s yet another application of Oregon’s Assisted Suicide law.   
For the Chancellor and the State Board of Higher Education, a “team player” is someone who falls in line with their acceptance of mediocrity, and the one who strives for excellence does not fit in.  Let us hope that the Oregon community can take this astonishingly bad decision and recognize that it does not have to define us.  We still have the collective capacity to rise up and do great things.”
The good news for Kitzhaber is Knight did not stay angry for long—or at least his company didn't.

A filing posting late Friday night with the state Elections Division shows Nike gave the governor $10,000 on Dec. 9, just over two weeks after Larivere's firing.

Kitzhaber has begun making fund-raising calls recently to refill the coffers of his political action committee (which, after the Nike contribution, holds $35,000), which is typical for a governor prior to an election year.

Although Kitzhaber is not on the ballot in 2012, several Democratic lawmakers who took heat from the Oregon Education Asssociation for supporting Kitzhaber's education reforms are up for re-election, and the governor and others will probably be called upon to support them.

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