Last week, WW reported Gov. John Kitzhaber had selected Portland lawyer Elisa Dozono to replace Steve Ungar on the powerful five-member Lottery Commission.
That would be a plum assignment for Dozono, whose public service includes being former Mayor Vera Katz's spokeswoman, working on Kitzhaber's gubernatorial transition team and co-founding Emerge Oregon, a non-profit that recruits and trains Democratic women interested in running for elected office.
With her record of political involvement, Dozono would have seemed to be cinch for confirmation by the Senate Rules Committee, which first addresses gubernatorial appointments, when lawmakers meet in an interim session later this month. In most cases, gubernatorial appointees win confirmation and usually if there's opposition, it is partisan in nature. Since Democrats control the Senate by a 16-14 margin, Dozono, a loyal Democrat, might expect smooth sailing.
But members of her own party signaled to Kitzhaber that would not be the case. Tim Raphael, Kitzhaber's spokesman, says Kitzahaber has withdrawn Dozono's name. Democratic senators raised "the appearance of a conflict," he says, dooming the appointment.
As WW first reported, the issue is Miller Nash, the law firm at which Dozono is a partner, represents the Dotty's Deli chain, which is always among the top Lottery retailers. The Lottery is currently sparring with Dotty's on the issue of whether there is too great a concentration of Lottery retailers on Hayden Island. And although Dozono does not personally represent Dotty's, some lawmakers anticipated it might be difficult for her to represent the state's interest if her firm's client had an opposing position.
Kitzhaber disagreed, Raphael says, but will respect those objections.
"The governor believes Ms. Dozono would be a terrific addition to the commission, and we had fully vetted all concerns," Raphael says. "But he is withdrawing her name."
Dozono was not immediately available for comment. No other nominee has yet been named and so Ungar will remain Lottery chairman indefinitely.