The Oregon Department of Justice has agreed to pay a $1 million settlement to former Oregon Energy Department director Mark Long to settle claims the state violated his rights when it put him under criminal investigation in 2010.
The settlement, released to WW by Long's attorneys, is here.
The investigation stemmed from allegations he steered a contract to a firm co-owned by Cylvia Hayes, companion of Gov. John Kitzhaber.
The case and its messy fallout had already cost the state more than $1 million, as WW reported in a recent story about former Attorney General John Kroger.Long and three other Energy Department employees were put on paid leave in 2010 while the DOJ launched an investigation into whether they improperly steered a $60,000 contract to a company called TEEM, co-owned by Hayes. TEEM had finished dead last for another contract, and records showed Long encouraged the winner of that contract to carve off part of the business and give it to Hayes' firm.
The long running dispute between the state and former Oregon Department of Energy official Mark Long has been settled.
“I am pleased to report that the Department of Justice and State of Oregon can put this matter behind us,” said Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum.
The state will pay Long $1 million. There is no admission of liability. Win or lose, these cases would have been significantly more expensive had they continued. The $1 million settlement covers the $560,000 attorney fee judgment won by Long in a case that was on appeal as well as the $7.5 million lawsuit he had filed separately.
The dispute has its roots in a 2010 criminal investigation conducted by the Oregon Department of Justice into an Energy Department contract. The DOJ declined to prosecute Long or anyone else in the case.
Long subsequently sued the state twice, the first over records production, the second alleging the criminal investigation violated his civil rights. These matters have been ongoing for several years and this settlement puts an end to it.
“This is a lot of money, but it’s a prudent economic decision for Oregon taxpayers,” Attorney General Rosenblum said. “There is already a judgment against the state for nearly $600,000. The state also faced a potentially long and expensive trial in the other, related case. It could easily cost upwards of another million dollars just to try the case. So, even if we were to win, Oregonians could lose.”
"Regardless of no admissions of liability, the sincerest form of apology is a substantial payment to Mark Long for the damage that was done to him. (That’s a million mea culpas.)
Mark Long obtained a court order that former Attorney General John Kroger deliberately withheld public records from him at a time when Mark most needed those records.
He obtained an unprecedented monetary judgment of close to $600,000 in that public records case.
While the state appealed that case, we pursued claims against Kroger and his chief prosecutor, Sean Riddell, for their actions that caused harm to Mark and his reputation.
All along, this has been about holding those people accountable. Mark Long can move on with his service to the state and to those who depend on his leadership.
Attorney General Rosenblum apparently had the sense to recognize the profound consequences of the unlawful actions of her predecessor and his deputy."