July 25th, 2013 | by AARON MESH News | Posted In: Multnomah County, PDX News

Public Testimony Defending Jeff Cogen Included a Major Donor and a Relative

County says calls for him to resign outnumber support messages 107-to-39

     
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cogenstateMultnomah County Chair Jeff Cogen

The Multnomah County Commission tried to pass an emergency resolution this morning demanding Chair Jeff Cogen resign in the wake of an affair with a county employee. Cogen blocked the symbolic resolution by casting the lone vote against it.

And a parade of citizens came to his defense in public testimony—19 of them describing Cogen's virtues and castigating his fellow commissioners for singling out one mistake drummed up by "media innuendo."

Cogen claims he's been buoyed by a tide of public support—"hundreds" of messages asking him to stay on the job after admitting July 16 to an affair with a county employee.

But a records requests for communications to Cogen since July 16 reveals that 146 people have called or emailed Multnomah County. Of those, 107 people asked him to resign—and 39 people have requested he stay.

And a look at today's public testimony rolls shows citizens speaking on his behalf included Cogen's brother's wife's brother; a major contributor to Cogen's campaign war chest; Cogen's former intern; and a former co-staffer in City Commissioner Dan Saltzman's office.

WW previously reported that Cogen called friends last night, asking them to testify on his behalf.

"He said he made a few phone calls," says county spokesman David Austin, "but he did not use public or private email."

Cogen also told Austin some people had called him, asking if they should testify. "He told them, 'Sure.'"

Testimony at this morning's meeting was overwhelmingly in support of Cogen.

Sam Siegel is the brother of Cogen's brother's wife. He testified that Cogen should not resign.

Ted Blaszak owns the signature gathering firm Democracy Resources. He gave $5,000 to Cogen in January 2011—after Cogen's last county race, but with Cogen widely discussed as a potential candidate for Portland mayor. He testified that Cogen should not resign.

Emanuel Price interned in Cogen's office before joining the Black Parent Initiative and the Center for Intercultural Organizing. He testified that Cogen should not resign.

Promise King is the former executive director of Oregon League of Minority Voters. He served as a senior policy analyst under City Commissioner Dan Saltzman while Cogen was Saltzman's chief of staff. He testified that Cogen should not resign.

More as this story develops.

WW news interns Emily Schiola and Sara Sneath contributed to this report.

 
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