Well, this is not a good start when it comes to transparency versus secrecy in government. The Oregonian reports that the administration of Gov. Kate Brown has launched a criminal investigation into the leaking of some some crucial Kitzhaber emails. And that’s a big mistake.
In addition, two state officials who helped prevent the destruction of those emails were placed on leave last week, according to the Portland paper and website. The emails showed among other things that Kitzhaber was working on a strategy to blunt an ethics review of his fiancee’s actions even while he claimed publicly he wanted to fully cooperate with this review. The emails also revealed Cylvia Hayes’ plans to make money off her role in state government during and after Kitzhaber’s fourth term.
The emails were leaked to Willamette Week, which reported on them. And last week, Michael Jordan, Kitzhaber’s director of the Department of Administrative Services, reportedly called the head of the state police to ask for an investigation of the leak. This is wrong.
Thank God there are honest people in state government who wanted no part of hiding the Kitzhaber-Hayes plans. The public should thank them for making those emails public. The state administration should thank them for their courage in making them public instead of going along with the request to destroy them.
When public officials deal with the public’s business, they have no legitimate expectation of privacy. Shielding their emails only makes possible dealings that cannot see the light of day.
Governor Brown committed herself to transparency in state government. She should waste no time in calling off this witch hunt for the leakers. She should make it plain that Oregonians have a right to see anything she or her officials write while she is in charge. (hh)