June 23rd, 2011 | by NIGEL JAQUISS News | Posted In: Politics, Cops and Courts

Email Destruction at Oregon Department of Justice Brings Call for Special Prosecutor

sean_riddell_fs.narSean Riddell

Lawyers for Mark Long, the former interim director of the Oregon Department of Energy, have asked Gov. John Kitzhaber to direct Attorney General John Kroger to appoint a special prosecutor who would investigate the deletion of emails by former Department of Justice criminal chief Sean Riddell.

"We write to urge you to direct Attorney General John Kroger, pursuant to ORS 180.070, to conduct immediately a full and complete criminal investigation into the conduct of former Criminal Justice Division Chief Counsel Sean Riddell and employees of the Criminal Justice Division under his leadership," wrote lawyers Bill Gary and Dave Frohnmayer in a letter to Kitzhaber today.

In their letter, the two lawyers accuse Riddell of tampering with public records and official misconduct, and they ask that an independent prosecutor be appointed to investigate because Kroger's attorneys cannot investigate one of their own. 

"It is obvious that the Department of Justice cannot adequately investigate itself in this matter, particularly in light of the fact that the Attorney General [Kroger] made more than one public statement supporting Mr. Riddell and his division's investigation into the ODOE matter and exonerating Mr. Riddell of any wrongdoing in that regard," the letter says.

Last week, DOJ said that Riddell deleted emails relating to a 2010 investigation he led concerning whether Long steered a $60,000 subcontract to a company co-owned by Cylvia Hayes, Kitzhaber's longtime companion. After three investigations into the contract, Long and three subordinates at the Energy Department, all of whom had been placed on paid leave, got their jobs back. Hayes was not accused of any wrongdoing.

The fallout from the case has been heavy. Last week,  Kroger announced that Riddell was stepping down after less than two years on the job both because he had deleted "a large number of emails." Kroger also acknowledged problems with some high-profile criminal investigations led by Riddell.

Gary and Frohnmayer have filed a complaint with the Oregon State Bar alleging Riddell lied to witnesses in the Energy Department investigation.

Kroger is traveling today and has not yet seen Gary and Frohnmayer's letter. Kitzhaber's spokesman, Tim Raphael was not immediately available for comment.
 
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