The Oregon Department of Justice today responded to five GOP lawmakers calling for a criminal investigation into the Oregon Department of Energy's handling of Business Energy Tax tax credits.

The DOJ's reply? Tell us more.

The Republican lawmakers have surfaced allegations from a former Energy Department staffer that tax credits were deeply discounted, in violation of state law. A current Oregon Department of Revenue staffer also shared concerns with the five lawmakers.

As WW reported in July, the agency allowed wealthy Oregonians to buy the tax credits at 75 cents on the dollar, which provided them risk-free, double-digit profits long after lawmakers called for an end to such giveaways.

Today, Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum's top deputy, Fred Boss, wrote back state Rep. Cliff Bentz (R-Ontario), the one of the five lawmakers who is a lawyer.

Boss was interested in the most explosive allegation Bentz and his colleagues included in their letter.

"Among other concerns, you allege that 'persons working for the State may have used their positions for personal gain,'" Boss wrote. "As you know, this office is charged with investigating allegations of public corruption and malfeasance. ORS 180.610(5). Your letter suggests that you may have information that could be useful in assessing whether such an investigation is warranted. I would welcome the opportunity to meet and discuss whatever information you may have in more specific detail."

Boss' letter follows an announcement yesterday by Senate President Peter Courtney (R-Salem) and House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland) that they'd name a joint legislative committee to examine the troubled agency in 2016 and report back to the Legislature in 2017.

"It's time for the Legislature to bring the problems at the Department of Energy into full focus and determine how we can fix them once and for all," Kotek said in a statement.

"Session after session we have had to address problems at the Oregon Department of Energy. The BETC program has gotten the most attention, but it's been more than just the BETC. We need to get to the bottom of the issues at ODOE," Courtney added in a statement. "Is it the structure? Is it the purpose? Is it the personnel? Is it time for the Department of Energy to go away?"