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Wednesday
Oct262016

Pay to Play in Oregon’s AG Race?


Scandal Surfaces in Attorney General Rosenblum's Office

Salem, OR-The Cover Oregon litigation is complete. On September 15, 2016 a settlement was reached for $100 million, of which Governor Brown said $60 million is for ‘free IT services’ from Oracle, $10 million is for science education, and $25 million is for expenses.

But something that has gone all but unnoticed and unmentioned in the aftermath, until now, is the law firm that handled the lawsuit for the State of Oregon. Why did the Attorney General farm out this litigation to a private law firm instead of using lawyers in the Oregon Department of Justice? Instead her office chose Markowitz Herbold PC to handle the case.

What has not been explained is how the contract for legal services was let out, and was it a no-bid contract? These questions have not been answered. As of yet the Oregon Department of Justice has not disclosed any information on the contract.

What is clear, according to a report filed on Open the Books.com, a non- profit watchdog that claims to be “The World’s Largest Private Database of Government Spending”, is that the Markowitz Herbold law firm has received payments from the Oregon Justice Department in excess of $36 million dollars since 2012, the year Governor John Kitzhaber appointed Ellen Rosenblum Attorney General.

According to Daniel Crowe, Republican candidate for Attorney General, “The $25 million in cash provided by Oracle for this settlement goes straight to Markowitz Herbold, the politically-connected Portland law firm hired to handle this case.  And what some have found troubling is that Markowitz Herbold is one of Ellen Rosenblum’s most generous campaign contributors.”

What Ellen Rosenblum’s office needs to explain is why these legal services were farmed out, directing taxpayer money to a law firm which has contributed sizeable amounts to her campaign.

Crowe added: “Because of a complete lack of transparency on the part of the Oregon Department of Justice, the onus is on the incumbent Attorney General to explain why tens of millions of dollars of legal business has been steered to a campaign contributor.”

As for the Oracle settlement, which was less than 1.67 % of the amount the state was demanding of Oracle, there is some concern that the $60 million amount designated for “free IT services” may be very misleading. According to a Portland Tribune article the consulting firm KPMG estimates that it could cost the state between $490-515 million to access the “free” Oracle services tendered in the settlement agreement.