Politician Facing Investigation Tries To Destroy His Emails; Assistant 'Helps Out' By Emailing Order To Other Staffers
from the HOW-TO-FUCK-UP-101 dept
There are multiple ways to handle a super-sensitive situation like this one. The following is none of them. [via CJ Ciaramella]
Far too many politicians and legislators aren't happy with the fact that their emails are subject to public records requests. Some attempt to dodge this layer of accountability by using personal email accounts to handle official business. Oregon governor John Kitzhaber is one such politician.
Unfortunately for Kitzhaber and many others just like him, public records laws anticipate this endaround. In many states, personal email accounts are also FOIA-able if the emails discuss official (read: public) business. Kitzhaber, however, believed he could
outsmart outbludgeon the system.
Gov. John Kitzhaber’s office last week requested state officials destroy thousands of records in the governor’s personal email accounts, according to records obtained by WWand 101.9 KINK/FM News 101 KXL.Rumors of possible influence peddling led to this public records request. Kitzhaber's last-minute attempt to set fire to his email legacy doesn't exactly plant a halo over his head, seeing as it came one day before the Oregon DOJ opened up an investigation into these allegations. But he might have gotten away with it if only his own executive assistant hadn't completely sabotaged the coverup.
Records show the request to destroy Kitzhaber’s emails came from Jan Murdock, Kitzhaber’s executive assistant. She wanted all emails from Kitzhaber’s personal email accounts removed from state servers.Let that sink in for a moment.
There has been no word as to whether Kitzhaber required emergency surgery to remove his face from his palm after his assistant informed him that she had EMAILED orders to delete his EMAILS to EMAIL accounts that were subject to open records requests.
But then again, maybe Kitzhaber would have been out of luck anyway. Restoring a bit of faith in the system were the responses from staffers to this unusual request.
The prospect of deleting thousands of emails clearly made Osburn’s supervisor, Arian Turpin, uncomfortable.Turpin kicked this up to the next level, and the next level (Turpin's supervisor, Shawn Wagoner) was similarly hesitant to be Kitzhaber's accomplice. He ordered those involved to "take no action at this time" while he kicked it up yet another level to his boss (Gary Krieger) -- who also felt there was something inherently wrong with vanishing the Governor's emails.
“Guys, hold on processing this request until we receive approval from a higher authority,” Turpin wrote in a Feb. 5, 2015 email at 6:52 pm. “Given the unusual nature of the request, I’m reluctant to have my team move forward without the active awareness and consideration of the possibilities and a direct approval from higher levels of the action.”
Krieger told his supervisor, Michael Rogers, that he would not destroy the emails.The lesson here is: if you want to run a successful coverup, you need to make sure you've got more than one person on board with your plan. And you need to make sure that one person won't cheerfully pitch in with "help" that only hurts.
“I am not willing to make the call to delete information out of the email archive,” Krieger wrote on Feb. 5 at 7:24 pm. “As I stated we will need to discuss.”