Top City Manager, Subject of 2023 Auditor’s Investigation, Says He’ll Seek $75,000 in Reputational and Emotional Damages

Kurt Krueger still works as a top manager at the city as he threatens his employer with litigation.

WORKPLACES: Portland City Hall (foreground) and the Pacwest Center. (Brian Burk)

A high-ranking city employee who was the subject of a city auditor’s investigation last year intends to seek $75,000 from the city in emotional and reputational damages.

That’s according to a tort claim notice Kurt Krueger, a top manager with the Portland Bureau of Transportation, filed with the city on Dec. 11.

The auditor’s report, released in June of 2023, found that Krueger had for two years driven a city-owned vehicle for personal use and moonlighted as a volleyball coach during work hours.

In his legal claim, a copy of which WW has now obtained, Krueger casts the June 2023 auditor’s report as flawed, sloppy and harmful to his health, career and family.

Krueger writes in the claim that, in fact, he used the city car to go above and beyond his job description. Chiefly, that his presence at one of the city’s two office buildings downtown throughout the early stages of COVID-19 meant he could turn on computers and restart them for remote workers, send them pictures of paper plans, and receive and deliver mail.

Krueger could also park his car in an indoor parking garage connected to the city’s office building, Krueger’s claim reads, which was essential if he wanted to keep paper documents and electronics dry for co-workers during transportation to and from the office.

“These services provided by Mr. Krueger were the opposite of the waste and abuse reported by the auditor and should have been recognized as an example of leadership and extraordinary work effort during a challenging time,” the tort claim reads.

Krueger’s claim argues that the auditor’s investigation—which he alleges was “filled with flawed information” and “one-sided and damaging” and was written about in The Oregonian and, soon after, by the newspaper’s editorial board—“harmed Mr. Krueger’s health, personal and professional reputation.”

The day after The Oregonian published its story, the claim says, Krueger went to the emergency room by ambulance (it’s unclear what for, since the tort claim is partially redacted). The claim also says Krueger couldn’t find new employment “due to the publicity.”

Krueger is asking for $50,000 for “emotional, physical stress and reputation harm,” $20,000 for past and future legal costs, and $5,000 for lost coaching stipends. Krueger has been given a special appointment at PBOT for which he makes $210,475 annually—more than he made at his previous position when the City Auditor’s Office issued its report in 2023.

At a November meeting of the Oregon Government Ethics Commission, which also launched an investigation into Krueger’s use of the car and coaching job, Krueger told the commission that he had used the vehicle “openly and transparently” and that it allowed him to “keep the doors of the city open as best that I could from my vantage point.”

The ethics commission voted unanimously to launch a full investigation of Krueger following a staff report that found he had used the vehicle without proper approval and “avoided having to pay for fuel, parking, maintenance and possibly additional car insurance.” Ethics commission investigators also reported that Krueger “used his official position for financial gain” while coaching during work hours and failed to report a potential conflict of interest to his boss. (Krueger argues in his tort claim he breached no employee rules by coaching, and that his work contract allowed for flexibility. The tort claim also alleges the city did not allow Krueger to adequately defend himself during the auditor’s investigation, among other flaws.)

The state investigator in Krueger’s case, Hillary Murrieta, said the ethics commission is negotiating with Krueger’s attorney to reach a penalty agreement. If an agreement isn’t reached, the investigation report will be presented to the ethics commission in May.

Krueger, through his attorney, declined to comment.

City spokeswoman Carrie Belding says the city cannot comment on open legal claims.

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