Ever since May, when Neil Goldschmidt was forced to admit having sexually abused a 14-year-old girl during his term as Portland mayor, Gov. Ted Kulongoski and his aides have been downplaying their ties to Goldschmidt and his consulting firm.

On Sunday, however, Salem's Statesman Journal revealed that Goldschmidt's influence on his former protégé was extensive.

"Goldschmidt and business partner Tom Imeson had more private meetings with the governor than anyone besides Kulongoski's staff and top legislative leaders," reporter Steve Law wrote in his story, part of a package published Sunday.

The newspaper obtained emails and other communications from the first 16 months of Kulongoski's administration and found that the new governor and his staff exchanged an average of 100 pages of correspondence each month with the Goldschmidt-Imeson-Carter consulting firm. They met two dozen times in those 16 months, yielding benefits to clients of the firm, which also served as advisor to the governor. Some examples of the firm's clout:

* Imeson persuaded Kulongoski's staff to cancel a bid and rewrite its terms so one of his clients, HealthWatch Technologies, could win a contract to detect Medicaid overpayments.

* Kulongoski signed a letter written by Goldschmidt's firm that endorsed light rail's extension to Clackamas--a move that would benefit Goldschmidt's clients.

* After a federal jury found Weyerhaeuser guilty of anti-competitive practices, Kulongoski voted on behalf of Weyerhauser and against small timber mills in a related State Land Board vote, appearing to change his mind after being lobbied by Goldschmidt's firm.

Pacific University political-science professor James Moore called the emails "ethically troubling," but Kulongoski and Imeson denied any impropriety. The governor told the Statesman Journal, "95 percent of the contacts between Neil, Tom Imeson or that office were generated from me. They made very little demands on me."