Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum has agreed to investigate Multnomah County Sheriff Dan Staton, according to a letter sent to the state by County Chairwoman Deborah Kafoury.
In a letter today, Kafoury and Multnomah County District Attorney Rod Underhill formally requested that DOJ investigate and noted that Rosenblum had agreed to take on the job.
"We appreciate that you have agreed to conduct the review and if appropriate, to conduct an investigation into these matters," Kafoury wrote in a Feb. 5 letter to Rosenblum that WW obtained under a public records request.
"The Attorney General appreciates the referral of this matter by District Attorney Underhill and Chair Kafoury," DOJ spokeswoman Kristina Edmunson said in a statement. "DOJ has also received a request for an independent review from Sheriff Staton. The Attorney General would like to assure DA Underhill, Chair Kafoury and the public that the Oregon Department of Justice will conduct a fair, thorough and impartial review of the alleged misconduct to determine whether criminal charges are warranted."
Earlier this week, WW reported that one of Staton's three chief deputies had filed a tort claim notice, alleging that Staton harassed her and made numerous sexually charged and inappropriate comments about county officials.
In a second story, WW reported thatStaton convened a meeting of county union leaders Jan. 11 to discuss the county's charter review committee. Staton expressed concern that the committee was considering recommending that the charter be changed so that the sheriff's position would be appointed rather than elected.
At the Jan. 11 meeting, Staton said he “had a full profile done” on each of the 14 citizen volunteers on the committee.
Staton added that his human resources director, Jennifer Ott, “had files on the committee members.”
On Feb. 3, Kafoury announced she wanted the DOJ to investigate both the allegations in the tort claim and Staton's remarks at the Jan. 11 meeting, at which he also allegedly other sheriffs would "cap" somebody if his position were to be made appointive.
Kafoury tells WW getting an outside perspective is important.
"I'm hoping to have an independent and dispassionate look at the facts," Kafoury says. "It's important for the public and the members of the charter review committee that somebody takes an independent look at what has happened."
Staton said in a statement earlier this week that although he could not comment on the pending tort claim, he was confident that his request for background information on charter review committee members didn't violate any law.
Staton said a DOJ investigation was appropriate.
"I welcome the opportunity for an outside inquiry," Staton said Feb. 3.