Secretary of State Dennis Richardson Withdraws Earlier Request to Delegate His Participation in State Land Board

Abrupt reversal comes one day before next scheduled meeting after the Oregon Department of Justice rejects his legal interpretation.

HOME SWEET HOME: A scurrying, pregnant newt (above) and a just-blossomed trillium (below) are reasons the Elliott has tight environmental rules—and advocacy groups willing to sue to keep those rules in place.

Secretary of State Dennis Richardson today withdrew an October request to be allowed to delegate his participation on the state Land Board to a staff member.

The move comes after the Oregon Department of Justice apparently opined that Richardson's intention to delegate his position on the three-member board wasn't legal.

"Secretary Richardson has decided to withdraw the delegation," wrote his legal affairs director Steve Elzinga in an email to the other Land Board members, Gov. Kate Brown and state Treasurer Tobias Read today.

"As you all know, the Land Board has received verbal advice from the Attorney General disagreeing with part of this delegation. Although our office has a different perspective on this, Secretary Richardson does not want to waste taxpayer resources on a lengthy legal fight to vindicate his rights as a member of the Land Board. Secretary Richardson has always focused on the Land Board's constitutional and moral duty to prioritize school funding through efficiency and improved management of Common School Fund trust lands."

Richardson is battling brain cancer, which has forced him to greatly reduce his public schedule.

Dennis Richardson (Sam Gehrke)

In October, he told his Land Board colleagues he'd like Leslie Cummings, his deputy, to sit in for him at subsequent meetings. That prompted Dmitri Palmateer, Read's chief of staff, to request an opinion from the DOJ as to whether Richardson's delegation of duties was allowed by law.

That opinion has not yet been publicly released.

The Land Board, which oversees more than 500,000 acres of publicly owned lands and the bottoms and banks of the state's navigable rivers, is taking up a weighty issue at the Dec. 18 meeting: the potential sale of the Elliott State Forest.

As WW reported last month, the Board, which aborted a sale to a private buyer last year, is seeking bids from public sector purchasers.

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