The state of Oregon announced today it has settled two high-profile lawsuits.
One lawsuit involves Erious Johnson, Jr., who is until Friday the top civil rights lawyer for the Oregon Department of Justice. In 2015, Johnson learned that he'd been the subject of electronic surveillance by a DOJ investigator.
The investigator, James Williams, used a tool called "Digital Stakeout" to search for terms including "Black Lives Matter" on the social media accounts of people in Salem. His search led him to Johnson's Twitter account, which contained a variety of what were later determined to be innocuous tweets and re-tweets.
At the request of his superiors, Williams prepared a memo detailing what he had found. Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum later determined that search and memo may have constituted racial profiling, and violated Johnson's rights and laws against gathering information on a person's political leanings without probable cause a crime has been committed. (Disclosure: Rosenblum is married to Richard Meeker, the co-owner of WW's parent company.)
When Johnson learned what had happened, he filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Portland. Today, the state agreed to pay him $205,000. He will leave DOJ on Oct. 13 and cannot apply for another state position for five years.
Nkenge Harmon Johnson's claim related to her 2014 dismissal from her job as then-Gov. John Kitzhaber's communications director.
Harmon Johnson said that she'd been improperly fired after she raised questions about then-First Lady Cylvia Hayes' involvement in policy issues and Kitzhaber's re-election campaign in a July 15, 2014 staff meeting. Harmon Johnson was fired three days later.
Last year, she filed a federal civil rights lawsuit alleging she lost her job for speaking up about Hayes.
Harmon-Johnson has since become the president and CEO of the Urban League of Portland. She agreed to settle her claim for $70,000.