July 24th, 2013 | by ANDREA DAMEWOOD and AARON MESH News | Posted In: Multnomah County, PDX News

Multnomah County Commissioners Demand Jeff Cogen Resign

cogenMultnomah County Chair Jeff Cogen and Commissioner Loretta Smith

Multnomah County commissioners have issued an emergency resolution demanding County Chair Jeff Cogen resign.

The demand comes hours after the county employee with whom Cogen had an affair, Sonia Manhas, quit her job—saying she was pressured to resign by county officials.

The resolution is on the agenda for tomorrow morning's County Commission agenda at 9:30 am.

It carries no legal power, but it shows that Cogen, the highest-ranking official in Multnomah County government, has lost the support of at least three of his four colleagues after public records undermined his story about the affair. 

However, Cogen has not resigned, contrary to other media reports.

County rules say the commission can pass an emergency resolution only with a unanimous vote. It is likely but not clear this evening that all four commissioners are backing the resolution; only Deborah Kafoury says on the record she will.

But if all four commissioners are voting against him Thursday morning, it would place Cogen in the position of casting the only vote against a resolution demanding he resign. That would be an astonishing (and probably career-ending) piece of political theater.

The resolution—which includes a place at the bottom for Cogen to sign it—has four points of concern, including the relationship with Manhas itself, the possible misuse of county funds and appearance of inappropriately influencing county business.

"The conduct of Chair Jeffery S. Cogen has cause significant concern in his ability to continue to serve as the senior elected official of Multnomah County," the resolution reads. "The board has lost its trust and confidence in Chair Jeffery S. Cogen's judgement and ability to continue leadership."

The vote on the resolution is set for tomorrow; Cogen is set to attend.

WW has reported Cogen repeatedly used county resources to conduct the affair—including during an April "best practices" tour of Atlanta, where Manhas secretly joined him—and that the two worked together directly on public health policy, often cutting out her bosses and his staff.

Cogen declined to answer that or other questions. Yesterday he gave an interview to KGW's Laural Porter, a move seemingly designed to divert attention from questions about the Atlanta trip and other aspects of his story. During the interview, he said he won't resign.

"I'm a fighter and tenacious," Cogen told Porter. "I'm not going to just throw in the towel."

But Manhas' resignation has pushed commissioners to demand he leave.

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum also confirmed this afternoon that her office will conduct a criminal investigation of Cogen's spending on the affair at the behest of Multnomah County District Attorney Rod Underhill and Sheriff Dan Staton.

County spokesman David Austin, distributing copies of the resolution in the Multnomah County building's lobby this afternoon, says only Cogen's resignation would end the chairman's tenure tomorrow.

"If he chooses not to step down," Austin said, "he is the county chair."

 
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
comments powered by Disqus
 

Web Design for magazines

Close
Close
Close