State attorneys urge Oregon Supreme Court to resolve Kristof residency quickly

Filing asks the Supreme Court to order Kristof to turn over any relevant documents

By: - January 11, 2022 3:30 pm

Nick Kristof, pictured on his farm in Yamhill on Sept. 11, launched his campaign for governor on Wednesday, Oct. 27. (David Hume Kennerly/Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona)

The Oregon Supreme Court should decide quickly whether Nick Kristof is qualified to run for governor and ask the Democratic candidate to turn over any relevant documents, attorneys for the state wrote in a new legal filing obtained by the Oregon Capital Chronicle on Tuesday.

Kristof, a former New York Times columnist, is suing Secretary of State Shemia Fagan over her determination that he doesn’t meet constitutional requirements to run for governor. The constitution requires that anyone running for governor reside in Oregon for three years prior to the election.

Fagan and long-time employees in the state Elections Division concluded last week that evidence they had indicates that Kristof was a resident of New York until late 2020, a year after he would have needed to establish residency. Kristof and his attorneys contend that he has always been a resident of Oregon because he thought of the state as his home, but he hasn’t provided documents to the state that would prove his residency. 

Kristof on Friday appealed to the Supreme Court, asking that it order Fagan to return him to the ballot. He continued campaigning over the weekend, posting photos from a Bend meeting with a food service union that endorsed him. 

In an 11-page response, Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum and Solicitor General Benjamin Gutman agreed with Kristof that the state Supreme Court is the best avenue to resolve the dispute. State law says anyone adversely affected by an election official’s decision should appeal to a state circuit court, but attorneys agreed that decision might take too long given the rapidly approaching primary election. March 17 is the deadline to print ballots.

But Rosenblum and Gutman said the tight timetable is Kristof’s fault, noting he could have filed to run as early as Sept. 9, 2021. He announced his campaign in October but didn’t file to run until Dec. 20 – nearly three weeks after the Secretary of State’s Office said it contacted his campaign to urge him to file quickly because election officials anticipated challenges to his residency.

The state’s attorneys wrote that the court can either decide whether Kristof is a resident of Oregon based on the information election officials considered or request additional information from Kristof. 

“While plaintiff provided a copious supplemental response, he offered few new facts other than a personal affidavit and two affidavits from friends,” the response said. “The Elections Division made its decision based on the information plaintiff provided and publicly available facts.” 

The response quotes Kristof at a press conference Thursday, during which he said he would have provided any records, including his income tax returns, to election officials if they had asked. 

Kristof ignored explicit requests last month for redacted versions of his tax returns, as well as other documents, from the Oregon Capital Chronicle, and he said during that press conference that he did so to “honor” the secretary of state’s investigation. 

Oregon taxpayers indicate on their tax forms whether they’re part-year residents, full-year residents or nonresidents.

“To date, however, plaintiff has been unwilling to stipulate in these proceedings to his tax filing status for either state (resident, part-time resident, or nonresident) for the relevant period, whether or when he amended his tax returns, or—if he was a part-time resident—to specify the date his residence changed,” the state’s response said. 

The state asked for an expedited schedule, with briefs completed by Jan. 26 and oral arguments on Jan. 31 or Feb. 1.

A Kristof campaign spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


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Kristof appeals residency decision to Oregon Supreme Court

Kristof attorneys argue Yamhill has always been home for the gubernatorial candidate

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Julia Shumway
Julia Shumway

Julia Shumway has reported on government and politics in Iowa and Nebraska, spent time at the Bend Bulletin and most recently was a legislative reporter for the Arizona Capitol Times in Phoenix. An award-winning journalist, Julia most recently reported on the tangled efforts to audit the presidential results in Arizona.