Criminal Cronyism in Oregon
Governor's Advisors Killed Health Care Exchange for Political Cover
Oregon’s former Gov. John Kitzhaber (D) and his lover Cylvia Hayes became targets of a state and federal criminal investigation after engaging in what appears to be a clear pattern of corruption when environmental groups, including ones associated with billionaire Tom Steyer, used Hayes to direct state funds and policy for their benefit.
Senate Environment and Public Works Chairman Jim Inhofe described the situation as a “violation of public trust by the Oregon state officials,” noting “we have far-left foundations funneling significant funds to an environmental group to orchestrate this type of activism without any public disclosure.” Most legal observers believe Kitzhaber and Hayes will be facing criminal charges in the near future.
While the episode is well known and has well covered by the media, but newly released emails suggest that Kitzhaber’s political team was deeply engaged in another scandal, one that was even more costly to the taxpayers.
When ObamaCare passed and federal funds began flowing to states willing to establish their own version of the federal exchange, Oregon was one of the first in line. Even before the state’s portal was up and running, the brain-trust running Portland began putting television ads on the air that made the state the laughing stock of the late night talk show circuit.
With pressure building and facing re-election, Kitzhaber put his political team in charge of overseeing the exchange. Fearing a public relations disaster, Kitzhaber’s advisors decided to pull the plug on the state’s ObamaCare website. Whistleblowers contend the site was operational and just needed to be run through a series of beta and testing phases. The decision was the equivalent of burning $305 million of taxpayer money all to cover their political behinds.
This has gotten the attention of Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) 81%, Chairman of the House Government Oversight Committee. He told the Washington Times “[T]here is a curious crossover between the political and the executive branch in Oregon, and it doesn’t smell right, and it doesn’t look right and there’s a lot of smoke. There are hundreds of millions of dollars that need to be accounted for. It’s highly suspicious, and we intend to get to the bottom of it.”
State and federal prosecutors ought to be looking at the political decisions of Kithaber’s cronies involved in the Oregon Exchange scandal as well.