Michael Jordan, Oregon’s chief administrator, announced his resignation on Thursday, effective April 1.
Gov. Kate Brown appointed George Naughton to serve as acting director for the time being. Naughton is the chief financial officer at the the Department of Administrative Services (DAS).
“We are committed to continuing with the Enterprise Leadership Team and related collaborative initiatives begun under Mr. Jordan’s leadership,” Brown said. “We are grateful for his years of service to the people of Oregon and the community of state government.”
Jordan was involved in former Gov. John Kitzhaber’s scandal, specifically making headlines for asking the Oregon State Police to investigate emails leaked regarding the former governor’s behavior in office. Later, a manager in the data center sent an email that claimed the investigation was “purely political,” casting Jordan in a negative light.
Jordan previously expressed no interest in resigning and seemed to plan on continuing in office.
Jordan did not announce his resignation to the public but at 10:39 a.m. on Thursday sent an email to agency heads. He wrote:
Dear Agency Heads, Boards & Commissions,
This morning, I notified Governor Brown that I will be resigning as State COO and DAS Director, effective April 1. George Naughton has agreed to serve as acting director, effective immediately, until Governor Brown can appoint a successor.
We’ve made great strides in the past four years to not only improve the work we do here at DAS, but across the enterprise of state government. Our relationship with the Legislature has improved, our customers are more engaged and state agencies are working more collaboratively. That’s thanks to your hard work and dedication.
Governor Brown is committed to continuing with the Enterprise Leadership Team and other related collaborative initiatives that have led to our improvement. To maintain our momentum, she will need your continued effort and support.
According to DAS, Jordan will use his vacation time before leaving officially on April 1.
“All I would do is wish him the best,” said Ruth Scott, president civic improvement group Innovation Partnership. “He deserves to be in a place where he can lead.”
Naughton, who has yet to make an official comment about his new position, is a longtime state official. He served as Oregon’s chief financial officer and budget director since 2006. Previously, he worked as deputy director for the Department of Land Conservation and Development and the state’s financial office’s policy analyst.
Sen. Betsy Johnson, a vice chair of the Oregon Legislature’s Joint Ways and Means Committee, which works on the budget, described Naughton as “a competent public administrator.”
“He’s very capable,” she said.
Although Brown originally told Jordan she had no plans to change agency heads, she is now conducting a search for a director to take Jordan’s position permanently.
Photo Credit: Associated Press/Thomas Patterson/Statesman Journal
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.
The race for Oregon governor leans heavily Democratic according to the most recent polling data, but a breaking scandal involving the first lady may call the numbers into question.
First Lady Cylvia Hayes, an energy and sustainability consultant, became engaged to Governor Kitzhaber over the summer.
Her name in the news is creating ongoing controversy for the Governor, who was otherwise riding his campaign with a comfortable margin over his challenger.
First Lady Hayes became the center of attention last Thursday when she admitted to allegations that she had accepted $5,000 to marry an immigrant. This only compounded earlier stories that she had also been involved in a marijuana growing operation and done consulting work with a conflict of interest.
The question now posed to the voters is how these developments will affect their decision.
A survey conducted on October 7 showed Kitzhaber 21 points ahead, with the Governor at 50 percent and Dennis Richardson at 29 percent. The 21 percent of voters who were undecided, as well as many who may have supported one candidate or the other, will have to decide where they stand after the ongoing scandal is resolved.
Richardson’s campaign has a long way to go, with or without a scandal for Kitzhaber. A poll researcher for the firm that conducted the survey said that Kitzhaber is likely to win, but Richardson still has a chance.
DHM Research of Portland said the dynamics could change if Richardson is able to raise money to bring up his name recognition.