Bend representative defends Kitzhaber whistleblower

“Michael Rodgers isn’t an Oregon criminal – he is an Oregon hero,” Knute Buehler said.

Share this article!


Oregon state representative Knute Buehler took to the House floor Thursday to defend the man whose actions led to the resignation of former Gov. John Kitzhaber.

“Michael Rodgers isn’t an Oregon criminal – he is an Oregon hero. He deserves our respect and our support, not the burden of mounting legal bills,” Buehler said. “Yesterday, I made a personal contribution to support Mr. Rodgers in his legal defense and I urge others who feel government should be open, transparent, and accountable to the people to join me.”

Buehler also is pushing for lawmakers to move legislation he introduced last month that would prohibit retaliation against a public employee whistleblower. House Bill 3544 was referred to a closed committee and has not had a hearing.

(SOURCE: Statesman Journal)

Rodgers has been on paid administrative leave from his post in the Oregon Department of Administrative Services since he leaked thousands of emails that showed alleged improprieties by Kitzhaber and his fiancee Cylvia Hayes.

To complicate matters, the prosecutors that are pursuing criminal charges against Rodgers — the Marion County District Attorney’s Office — have a potential conflict of interest of their own brewing. Willamette Week’s Nigel Jaquiss reports Kitzhaber’s nephew Matthew Kemmy serves as a senior prosecutor in that office.

The Marion County DA said his office has asked the Yamhill County District attorney to assume control of the case, but correspondence between the Marion Co. outpost and Rodgers indicates otherwise, writes Jaquiss.

On May 6, Marion County DA senior Deputy District Attorney Paige Clarkson called Michael Levine, the criminal defense lawyer who represents Rodgers. Clarkson offered Levine a choice, Rodgers says: Rodgers could resign his job as the acting administrator of the state data center, or face criminal charges, one for each of the 6,000 emails he’d leaked. The fact that Clarkson—rather than a Yamhill County prosecutor—contacted Levine means the Marion County DA’s office has not recused itself from the case. Some prosecutors find that troubling. Three experienced Oregon prosecutors said on background that, once a county prosecutor’s office declares a conflict itself in a case, that office usually steps aside. 

“If Marion County filed a conflict notice and continued to be involved, that would be a serious matter and really inappropriate,” says one prosecutor who asked not to be identified because his office works with Marion County. 


Latest from Oregon Business Team