Thousands of emails released from ex-Oregon governor's private account

Reuters News
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Posted: Sep 08, 2015 8:38 PM

By Shelby Sebens

PORTLAND, Ore. (Reuters) - Oregon Governor Kate Brown released 5,000 emails on Tuesday from a private account used for state business by former Governor John Kitzhaber, who is facing a criminal corruption investigation.

Kitzhaber resigned in February amid federal corruption investigations stemming from allegations that his fiancé, Cylvia Hayes, used her role in his office for personal gain. He has denied wrongdoing and no charges have been brought in a federal investigation.

The 18,000-page email release was in response to multiple public records requests for records from the governor.kitzhaber@gmail.com email account, Brown said in a statement. 

"The release of these emails partially fulfills a number of outstanding public records requests,” she said. “The Office of the Governor continues to review the more than 12,000 emails from this account, and it will produce additional emails in the near future.” 

Kitzhaber’s attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Kitzhaber used the gmail account instead of his state-issued account when he took office in January 2011. The state did not start archiving all the emails from the private account until August 2011.

"Former Governor Kitzhaber’s legal counsel has been notified of the lack of archiving for this time period and has committed to producing public records from that email account from that time frame to the governor’s Office,” Brown said. “Those records will be reviewed upon receipt by the governor’s office, and will be released as part of the additional productions from this account.” 

It was unclear what the emails might reveal about Kitzhaber. He and Hayes have been fighting to keep their emails secret but thousands of Hayes’ emails have already been released by the state and via court order. 

One of those emails contained a memo in which Kitzhaber told staff that state energy policies should match those his fiancée was being paid to promote for an outside group, according to the Oregonian newspaper.

In a memo to staff, Kitzhaber wrote that his fiancée, Hayes, ought to play the same role, as a spokesperson and advocate for his office, as she does as a fellow at the Washington, D.C.-based Clean Economy Development Center.

(Reporting by Shelby Sebens in Portland; Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Bill Trott)