Gov. Brown allows investigation into whistleblowers to continue


The new governor has not called a halt to an OSP investigation into a leak of former Gov. John Kitzhaber’s emails.

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BY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

As new Gov. Kate Brown publicly advocates for transparency in government, Oregon State Police continues to investigate in an effort to identify the whistleblowers who refused to delete emails at the request of former Gov. John Kitzhaber.

The emails were subject to public records requests made by the Oregonian and Willamette Week, the police continue to investigate on who provided the emails to the publications, Willamette Week reports.

“It’s chilling for a government to conduct a criminal investigation, even if the release of emails is unauthorized,” Judson Randall of government transparency group Open Oregon, said in Nigel Jaquiss’ story. “Disclosing government information is not a criminal act and public employees will be less likely to engage in transparency issues if they think they might be investigated criminally for doing so.” 

Kristen Grainger, Brown’s spokeswoman, says the investigation is consistent with Brown’s desire to restore confidence in government.

“Unauthorized disclosure of records in state custody is problematic and requires further action, particularly when those records may be evidence in connection with an ongoing federal investigation,” Grainger says. “Protecting those records and ensuring they are not tampered with or destroyed is a legitimate basis for an inquiry.”

As Jaquiss pointed out, many of the emails did pertain to public affairs, which makes their release legally binding. And even if they were released without authorization, OregonLive.com reports that would amount to a misdemeanor — something the OSP “does not typically investigate.”


Taxpayers will pay for Cylvia Hayes’ defense

Cylvia Hayes has hired two federal public defenders to represent her, OregonLive.com reports:

Boise will continue to represent her in the near-term in her lawsuit filed against The Oregonian/OregonLive to block the release of Hayes’ emails related to her role as a state policy adviser and first lady on several of her personal accounts. Hayes’ has been under scrutiny for accepting paid consulting contracts centered on the very policy issues that she pushed in her roles as first lady and as an adviser to Kitzhaber.

Questions also have been raised about her tax filings. Hayes disclosed earlier this year that she accepted $118,000 — $30,000 in 2011 and $88,000 in 2012 — for a fellowship with the Clean Economy Development Center. Yet those figures didn’t match tax filings she provided to The Oregonian/OregonLive that showed she claimed income of $27,361 in 2012.

Federal fraud investigations can be an expensive ordeal, writes Laura Gunderson, and judges determine whether a defendant can use a public defender based on his/her resources.

 

 




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