July 17th, 2013 | by Nigel Jaquiss and Aaron Mesh News | Posted In: Multnomah County

County Attorney Offered Jeff Cogen Legal Advice Before Launching Inquiry Into His Affair

cogenelectionCounty Chair Jeff Cogen tours a room where workers verify the signature on the ballot on Nov. 6, 2012. - Multnomah County
Multnomah County Chair Jeff Cogen claims he didn't violate any county rules when he had a yearlong affair with a county health department staffer. 

County rules prohibit supervisors having sexual affairs with people who work for them. And Cogen is the chief executive of the county.

But Cogen told WW Tuesday "my understanding is that while what I’ve done is really stupid, really stupid, it’s not a violation of any personnel rules."

He made that claim after he was given legal advice earlier on Tuesday by the Multnomah County Attorney.

Now that same county attorney, Jenny M. Madkour, says she is conducting an inquiry into whether Cogen violated county policies.

Madkour confirms to WW she met with Cogen before launching the inquiry, and offered him legal advice before he publicly admitted the affair.

"Yeah," she says. "Most of my communications with clients are legal in nature."

Madkour says she is not compromised from looking into into Cogen's affair with county health department official Sonia Manhas.

"I don't agree with that characterization," Madkour tells WW. "Clients come to me, they give me a set of facts. Then I can conduct my own inquiry to see if I reach the same conclusion. That's what I do. That's what I'm doing in this case."

Cogen's four fellow county commissioners—Deborah Kafoury, Loretta Smith, Judy Shiprack and Diane McKeel—issued a joint statement tonight saying they "expect a sufficient inquiry by the County Attorney to provide answers for the people of Multnomah County."

None of them have spoken personally to the media since Cogen's admission.
 
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