Lawyers for the former director of the Oregon Department of Energy, Mark Long, filed a bar complaint (PDF) on May 13 against Sean Riddell, chief counsel for the Oregon Department of Justice's criminal division.
The complaint levels serious accusations against Riddell, a top lieutenant to Attorney General John Kroger.
"In the course of conducting a criminal investigation, Mr. Riddell repeatedly and unequivocally lied to witnesses and coerced and intimidated them in order to deceive those witnesses into making statements that Mr. Riddell could then use to make unfounded charges against the targets of his investigation," wrote Long's lawyers, Bill Gary and Dave Frohnmayer, in a letter to the Oregon State Bar.
The complaint is the latest twist in the ongoing saga of what once seemed a small-dollar investigation into contracting practices at the Department of Energy. The inquiry stemmed from a state audit which raised questions about a $60,000 subcontract awarded last year to a Bend company run in part by Cylvia Hayes, the longtime companion of Gov. John Kitzhaber.
The Department of Justice concluded Dec. 29, 2010, that it would not charge any state employees with official misconduct. But Long and three subordinates at ODOE remain on paid leave pending the resolution of the state deciding whether they should keep their jobs.
That process has devolved into a lengthy game of political and legal gamesmanship as lawyers for the four employees, the DOJ, and lawyers for various state agencies consider their options.
The bar complaint comes at a time when an independent lawyer hired by the Oregon Department of Administrative Services is about to render advice on the case. The bar complaint repeats allegations that Gary and Frohnmayer have made previously about Riddell.
DOJ spokesman Tony Green declined to address the complaint or whether its timing was significant.
"As with any ethical complaint, the Department of Justice will conduct a thorough review of the allegations and fully cooperate with the State Bar inquiry," Green told WW. "I have no comment on the timing of the bar complaint."