The state of Oregon has closed off access to public records about Multnomah County Chairman Jeff Cogen and evidence of his improper use of his office regarding his nearly two-year affair with a county employee.
The Oregon Department of Justice on Wednesday asked Multnomah County to stop responding to public-records requests regarding Cogen and county employee Sonia Manhas, claiming to do so may interfere with the state's criminal investigation into whether or not Cogen abused his public office.
"Release of Multnomah County records to individuals or entities other than the Oregon Department of Justice at this time may interfere with our criminal investigation," writes Darin E. Tweedt in a letter dated July 31.
County officials have agreed to comply with the DOJ's records freeze.
In the two weeks since Cogen confessed to the affair, the county has released more than 2,000 pages of emails, calendars and travel receipts. (County officials say they have received at least 36 public records requests from media organizations since Cogen admitted to the affair.)
WW's stories (here, here and here) have shown Cogen misled or lied to the public about the affair, and have undermined Cogen's denial that he used county money and his power to arrange trysts with Manhas and advance her career. It's these revelations that led to calls for the criminal investigation.
Even after the investigation began, WW reported Tuesday that Cogen doubled the budget for Manhas' office, even though its funding was slated to be cut.
But Rosenblum (wife of WW publisher Richard Meeker) has slammed the door on further public disclosures, many of which are certain to further embarrass Cogen.
These documents have been released because of records requests by WW and other media. There are dozens more requests pending, as media organizations continue to insist on full disclosure of documents related to Cogen and Manhas.
The DOJ has sought to block media requests before during its past investigations. The result: The public learns nothing more until the DOJ finishes its work, which often takes months.