Note: We're updating with interesting tidbits as we read. Hit the jump and scroll down for the latest.
So we're poring through the lengthy Oregon Department of Justice investigation into former Multnomah County Chair Jeff Cogen's affair with former health department manager Sonia Manhas. The big take-away, of course, is that the DOJ found no evidence of criminality—Cogen won't be charged.
But there's A LOT of detail about the affair. Here are excerpts from a timeline in the report, with much of the information provided by Manhas.
(Another Note: Much of this is salacious and personal, not to mention largely fueled by one half of the affair with her own axes to grind. But it's also contained in a 106-page government investigation into one of the biggest political scandals in recent history. So we're reporting on it.)
Update, 4:15 pm: Turns out "Margie Smith" the tipster who dropped the dime on the affair, is actually a health department employee named David Hudson. Hudson is former employee of Manhas' in the county's Healthy Active Schools program. He actually named himself as a disaffected employee in the infamous email that would lead to Cogen's political demise.
Hudson's grudge toward Manhas and Cogen, the report suggests, stems from an event at the Kennedy School, for which he'd scheduled a keynote speaker named Pat Cooper. Two weeks before the event, Manhas expressed concerns about Cooper.
Manhas told Hudson that her concerns were that Cooper was a “male, not a female” and the he was “not a person of color.” Hudson questioned why she was just now bringing that to his attention. Manhas told him there were concerns that had been raised by county leadership within Multnomah County.
Cooper was reimbursed for his place ticket, ultimately, and Cogen and other county commissioners ended up speaking. Hudson left his county job "for other opportunities in public health and because he was unhappy," the report says. He didn't know about the affair when he left.
Instead, he found out about the relationship through former coworkers at the health department in July. He told investigators he thought he could improve morale by bringing the affair to light. From the report:
Hudson stated he sent the email because he saw morale was poor and things were not going well in the health department and Manhas had management issues that were effecting the department. He thought that by sending the email to the commissioners they would address it in house. He said he never dreamed it would go to the media and become as big a deal as it has.
Update, 4:30 pm: A personnel investigation on the order of the Cogen/Manhas affair was so unheard of at the county that no one was really sure how to go about it. Elected officials and their staffs aren't typically held to HR rules. The report details a discussion with County Attorney Jenny Madkour:
Update, 4:37 pm: Former Cogen chief of staff, and interim County Chair, Marissa Madrigal told investigators she didn't necessarily know about Cogen's alleged drug use. But, you know, he did follow The Dead for a couple years.
Update, 4:47 pm: At least one of Manhas' rivals in the county had a eureka moment when she learned of the affair. According to an interview with Michael Hanna, president of the county's main union, a sustainability staffer named Katie Lynd feels her ideas were shortchanged because of the affair:
Update, 4:50 pm: Joanne fuller, the COO, disagreed with media reports that Cogen's interest in healthy living stemmed from his romance with Manhas. But she did think their relationship was unusually close—although she chalked it up to him being a well-known flirt. He apparently flirted with Deborah Kafoury.
Update, 4:54 pm: Fuller said the couple's joint travel arrangements—twice to Atlanta and twice to Salem—didn't raise eyebrows. They both had reasons to be in both places. (Manhas used personal time and money during Cogen's second trip to Atlanta.)
•Consenting adults and all that, but Cogen apparently used a relative's house to carry out the affair?
Update, 5 pm: Another tidbit from Fuller's interview. Yes, Cogen was one of Manhas' references—a big point of contention in media outrage—but the county never actually considers references on an application during internal hires. Manhas' direct supervisor, Lillian Shirley, had heard some concern that Manhas was pushy and a pain in the ass, but decided she was well-qualified for the work she had applied for as health policy manager.
Fuller told investigators she knew Cogen smoked pot based on the word of "others," but said "she had never seen that marijuana use effect (sic) his work or work performance."
Update, 5:06 pm: Manhas really went into depth on Cogen's drug use. She told investigators what he's done and where he gets it (from attorneys, obviously):
Manhas' statements also call into question whether she and Cogen's relationship could technically be called an "affair.":
A letter from Manhas' attorney shows Cogen's political demise might not be the flame-out we've all thought. It's possible, according to Manhas, that he wasn't even going to run for further office. Also, their relationship wasn't done when Cogen says it was, Manhas says.
Update, 5:27 pm: We reached out to Cogen via text and phone, he responded: "I have no comment right now, I haven't read the report yet."
Update, 5:35 pm: Madrigal was surprised her boss was having an affair—but not that Manhas was involved.
"She stated Manhas and Cogen had a very open friendship and at times, it interfered with work," the report says.
According to Madrigal, Manhas would disregard established procedure, changing the direction of projects "based on personal conversations Manhas stated she had with Cogen." Manhas would waltz into Cogen's office without an appointment. Madrigal "recalled Manhas being there often."
Update, 5:39 pm: Margaret Robinson, one of the two finalists for Manhas' job who dropped out after taking other posts in the county, said she took her current job because she felt like the hiring process for policy and planning manager was "predetermined" for Manhas.
Update, 5:51 pm: A soon-to-retire county employee, Lillian Wickham, almost applied for Manhas' job but decided to let someone with more time take it. She did join interview panel and said the consensus was Manhas wasn't ready. She then offered to do the job for three years. Lillian Shirley still hired Manhas.
Update, 6:25 pm: County Commissioner Judy Shiprack had some interesting reflections for state investigators. She'd noticed Manhas' outsized influence, as well.
Shiprack said "Cogen often took credit for projects and programs that were group efforts and often included Manhas in the credit while leaving out numerous others who were directly or more directly involved."
And Manhas may have played a part in the banishment of a health department rival, Shiprack said.
Update, 6:36 pm: Lillian Shirley, who hired Manhas for her job despite some concerns from the interviewing panel, said she thought Manhas was "innovative" and "visionary." She was aware of Manhas' close relationship and frequent contacts with Cogen, because Manhas spoke of them. But Shirley also said she supported Manhas fully and that Manhas never needed to go around her.
She did say that Cogen sometimes dropped knowledge that could have come only from inside the Health Department, and that was suspicious. Otherwise, she thought Manhas worked hard and was a big fan. The only hiccup came after the anonymous email about the affair made its rounds. Manhas tried to say she and Cogen were just friends. Shirley sent her home.
Update, 6:45 pm: Manhas at one point was able to squash rumors about her and Cogen in an official human resources report.
A health department employee, Mya Bhat-Gregerson, told investigators she had problems with another coworker spreading rumors about her. The same, co-worker, "Claire," also was telling staffers about Manhas and Cogen's affair. Bhat-Gregerson brought news of the rumors to Manhas.
"Bhat-Gregerson said that now, in retrospect," the report says, "she knows why Manhas asked her to remove the rumor information from her complaint."
Update, 6:53 pm: Cogen's scheduler from the time he took office until this February said Cogen personally added his lunch meetings with Manhas and also asked her to block out time so he could catch up on work. His parking receipts also didn't raise any eyebrows. Cogen's office wasn't so private, she said, meaning when meetings were there, they involved work.
Deborah Kafoury, running to replace Cogen, said he was a shell of himself when he found out the commissioners planned to ask for his ouster. "Why are you doing this to me?" She copped to having concerns about the budget Cogen pushed for Manhas' department, but said she feels okay about it, because she went over them and is a "stickler."
Kafoury noticed the unusual frequency of Manhas' visits to Cogen's office. And only once did she feel like Cogen sprung something Manhas-related on the board of commissioners: a vote to ban bysphenol-A from sippy cups.