The battle between former Oregon Department of Energy interim Director Mark Long and Attorney General John Kroger's Oregon Department of Justice continues to escalate.
Bill Gary, Long's attorney, filed a lawsuit last week in Marion County Court accusing Kroger of withholding records related to the racketeering theory that Justice Department criminal investigators pursued in last year's probe into the Oregon Department of Energy's contracting practices. Specifically, Gary and Long sought the DOJ affidavit related to a subpoena for bank records and other supporting documents.
In his lawsuit, Gary argued DOJ was stonewalling his request.
"Defendant [Kroger] has failed and refused to provide the documents requested in plaintiff's Public Record Disclosure Request even though there are no Public Records Disclosure Request exemptions applicable to plaintiff's Public Records Disclosure Request and no valid basis for refusing to produce the documents requested," Gary wrote on a complaint filed April 8.
Gary followed that lawsuit with a letter to the Senate General Government Committee. That committee is considering Senate Bill 41, a bill introduced at Kroger's request that seeks to make Oregon's public records law more effective.
"As outlined in the attached public records complaint," Gary wrote to members of the committee on April 12, "our attempts to gain access to [the RICO-related records] have been met with a disturbing pattern of delay, deflection and denial."
But in a letter responding to Gary's concerns, Michael Kron, DOJ's public records czar, told Gary he's gotten everything DOJ has responsive to his request.
"We believe that the information provided to you on April 12, consistent with the court order of April 7, fully completes our response to your public records request," Kron wrote in an April 13 letter to Gary.
As The Oregonian has reported previously, DOJ obtained bank records for Long and Cylvia Hayes. Hayes is a Bend renewable energy consultant and longtime companion of Gov. John Kitzhaber. It was her subcontract with the Department of Energy that triggered the criminal investigation.
Long and three other Energy Department employees remain on paid administrative leave pending decisions by state agencies about whether to follow recommendations from DOJ about whether they should retain their jobs or be fired.
DOJ spokesman Tony Green declined to comment on the lawsuit, saying Kron's letter to Gary captured the agency's position.