Investigation swirls in resigned Oregon governor's wake

Investigations are roiling the administrative branch Oregon's former governor left behind

Former Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber was hounded out of office by a series of damning stories in an alternative weekly newspaper documenting his fiance’s use of his public office to further her private business. Along the way, the paper published leaked personal correspondence sent by Kitzhaber concerning state business.

At least three state and federal investigations picked up where the newspaper stories left off. Now, those investigations are roiling the administrative department that Kitzhaber left behind when he resigned Feb. 18.

The Department of Administrative Services has been asked to produce a massive trove of correspondence surrounding Kitzhaber and his wife, Cylvia Hayes. The division within the department tasked with that job, Enterprise Technology Services, is under two investigations called for by DAS director Michael Jordan. One is being led by its human resources department, the second by the Oregon State Police.

Enterprise Technology Services administrator Michael Rodgers and engineering manager Marshall Wells have both been placed on administrative leave, first reported by The Oregonian.

“In accordance with DAS standard operating procedures in these situations, Mr. Rodgers and Mr. Wells are currently on paid administrative leave pending completion of the inquiry,” said DAS spokesman Matt Shelby in an email.

Shelby did not say whether their leaves of absence are related to the leak investigation.

Jordan has also ordered a shakeup of the department, replacing his deputy directory with the state’s chief information officer, Alex Pettit.

DAS provides IT services to other state agencies. It was the subject of a demand for information from the FBI, which sought Kitzhaber’s and Hayes’ correspondence and information on a host of projects pushed by Kitzhaber while he was in office.

When he took office in 2011, Kitzhaber told staffers at the state data center that he wanted to keep his Google webmail address, Shelby said. In response, the state simply copied his Gmail emails onto a state server to stay in compliance with Oregon public records law.

At some point before the FBI subpoena was made public this month, a Kitzhaber staffer demanded that DAS delete emails Kitzhaber sent and received from his Gmail account. Rodgers refused to delete the emails, concerned that doing so could potentially destroy evidence.

Shelby described the DAS shakeup as an interim move.

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