Public Foots Legal Bills For Oregon Corruption
As the Federal investigation begins to contact witnesses and prepare subpoenas for those in and around ex Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber’s staff, the state has ruled that each person can get up to $35,000 of their legal bills covered by public dollars.
Additionally, the state of Oregon may have had a Freudian Slip. They say that if an employee is taken to court involving official duties, then that employee should not have to pay their legal bill. In this case, the state is essentially saying that colluding with special interest groups, to funnel public dollars to the Governor’s friends, using funds that were stolen from the Feds by forging documents, is an “official duty” of public employees.
David Allaway, a Department of Environmental Quality staffer who in a 2013 email documented Hayes mixing her state and private roles, was approached by federal agents on March 3 and alerted that he would be subpoenaed for a grand jury.
The state has approved 13 employees for coverage so far. Of those, five have submitted legal bills for payment. The biggest bill to date is for Kitzhaber’s energy adviser, Margaret “Margi” Hoffman, who requested $12,915 to pay her lawyer, Kevin Sali. Hoffman was subpoenaed on Feb. 23 to appear before the federal grand jury in March, records show.
The program stems from a long-standing state policy that essentially says if employees are taken to court for performing state duties, it isn’t fair to make them foot their own legal bills. It applies to both civil and criminal cases.
An employee’s application to cover legal fees must be approved by a review committee. They must submit written evidence that they’ve been contacted by law enforcement.
Already, the state has supplied the federal investigators with more than two million records, according to the Oregon Department of Justice.
Other state employees approved for funding include: DEQ staffers Allaway and Palmer Mason; Michael Jordan, former director of the Department of Administrative Services; Sean McGuire, who worked on a Hayes project; and Tracy Osburn and Adrian Turpin, employees of the state’s data warehouse.
The state is still considering applications from four other employees: Kitzhaber scheduler Jan Murdock; Kitzhaber aide Dan Carol; Tim Raphael, a Kitzhaber spokesman and campaign consultant; and economic adviser Scott Nelson.