War of Words Continues Around ODOE Investigation

Last week, The Oregonian reported on details of an Oregon Department of Justice investigation into contracting practices at the Oregon Department of Energy. That investigation is politically fraught because it involves an ODOE subcontractor, Cylvia Hayes, who is the longtime companion of Gov. John Kitzhaber.

The O based its reporting on a copy of the Justice Department investigative file that DOJ had distributed to lawyers for four Energy Department employees placed on administrative leave as a result of the investigation. Since the investigation concluded on Dec. 29, DOJ has pledged to make the information it gathered public as soon as the suspended employees either accept or waive the opportunity to have a "name-clearing" hearing.

But the release of the massive cache of documents—they fill nine compact discs—keeps getting pushed back.

On Jan. 26, Oregon Department of Justice lawyer Donna Bennett wrote [PDF] to lawyers for the four Oregon Department of Energy employees asking them for the immediate return of the discs.

"It appears the discs may contain information that should not have been released," Bennett wrote. "Accordingly, we request that you and your clients return to DOJ, care of me, the nine computer discs that were provided to you and that you and your client destroy any electronic or hard copies of those discs that have been made and refrain from disseminating any information on the discs. We assume that you as an attorney and your client as a state employee will respect this request."

Bennett's letter followed more than a month of increasingly contentious communication between DOJ and the lawyers for former ODOE director Mark Long.

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