The IRS has joined the FBI in the federal investigation of Gov. John Kitzhaber and his fiancée, Cylvia Hayes.
Michael Jordan, the state’s chief operating officer, said in an interview Wednesday that he was questioned two weeks ago by agents from the FBI and IRS.
Jordan’s revelation is the first sign the IRS is part of the public corruption investigation. Although an IRS spokesman said the agency does not comment on ongoing investigations.
Hayes’ federal tax return for 2012 did not reflect all of her income from her environmental consulting business. Although the income could have been reported on her business tax return, she and her attorneys have not responded to repeated requests for those returns. Instead, Hayes hired a criminal defense attorney to deal with her tax situation.
Jordan, who runs the state Department of Administrative Services, disclosed in an interview Wednesday that state technicians gathered up computers and other electronics used by Kitzhaber staff members. Jordan was told that this happened after discussions with the office of U.S. attorney Amanda Marshall.
Marshall’s office didn’t return a call from the Oregonian seeking comment and Brown’s office declined comment.
In the interview, Jordan recounted events leading to the data leak investigation.
“I’ve been doing this for 30 years now,” Jordan said. “This is the most bizarre set of circumstances I’ve lived through as a manager.”
Jordan has opened up about all the confusion.
In December, Kitzhaber called Jordan asking to confirm that the state data system was archiving emails from a gmail account he established for state business. The call was sparked by questions from The Oregonian about Kitzhaber’s use of non-state email accounts for public business.
Jordan assured Kitzhaber his emails had been preserved. Agency officials soon realized emails from two private accounts kept by the governor for personal business had been archived.
Three days later, a Kitzhaber friend and staff member, Jan Murdock, called the agency and requested the removal of the personal emails from the state archives. This request was denied and the decision was supported by Michael Rodgers, acting director of the center. Jordan said he supported the decision when he found out about it the next day.
The following week, Jordan was at home in Canby when there was a knock at the front door. Two agents – one FBI, one IRS – questioned Jordan for an hour.
The next morning, Jordan was leaving his office when the two agents climbed out of their parked car and handed him the federal subpoena demanding email correspondence sent and received by Hayes, Kitzhaber, and 15 employees – including himself.
After leaving his office and arriving at the Capitol, Kitzhaber announced his resignation in an 11 a.m. meeting on Feb. 13.
The following week, on Feb. 17, Jordan said a Kitzhaber aide tipped him about a possible leak of Kitzhaber’s personal emails. The following morning on Feb. 12, those emails were the center of a story published in Willamette Week.
Jordan called State Police Supt. Rich Evans to ask for an investigation because he felt the potential evidence should not have been leaked. He wasn’t sure a crime had occurred regarding Kitzhaber.
On the next day, Marshall Wells, an executive in the state’s data center, took a technical worker to the governor’s office. They secured the computers, belonging to some of the people named in a Feb. 12 subpoena issued by a federal grand jury. Possession was also taken of some state-owned cell phones and iPads that had been used by Kitzhaber’s staff.
Jordan immediately placed Rodgers and Wells on administrative leave pending a personnel investigation.
Jordan sought out state Chief Information Office Alex Pettit to review security concerns at the data center. From the seizure of computers, Jordan was motivated to launch the personnel investigation over concern his managers weren’t following the chain of command.
“We did enough interviewing with enough folks preliminarily to determine that there was no one within the structure of our leadership that had given permission to do that,” he said.