If you follow Oregon politics you are probably aware of the latest Oregon Executive branch scandal you know that Oregon Health Authority employees secretly conspired to besmirch and attack a health care provider that it was at political and legislative odds with. Nick Budnick of the Portland Tribune wrote a stellar investigative piece on this scandal.
Today, the Oregon Business Journal wrote an article with the OHA’s response.
Asked about the plan and related documents, Oregon Health Authority spokesman Robb Cowie wrote in an email that they were intended to “sketch out a range of outreach options and messages we explored to counter FamilyCare’s aggressive and often incorrect public statements. They were never formally reviewed or approved, or fully implemented.”
Here is part of a letter from OHA Director Lynn Saxton that was issued in response to the Tribune article:
I am writing to express my sincere regret that a draft communications plan implied that OHA thought sharing negative information about FamilyCare with media was an acceptable strategy. Let me be clear: it is not an acceptable strategy for OHA or any state agency. This draft plan developed by OHA staff in the heat of ongoing litigation was not implemented or acted on in any way. No OHA staff sought to pitch negative stories to media about FamilyCare. These ideas were shelved in their draft form because they weren’t in keeping with how we conduct ourselves at OHA.
In a Feb. 18 email, however, Saxton signaled her approval of the most aggressive draft of the plan released by OHA, saying she’d read it and there were some new developments that “will build on the already good start you have outlined.”
Saxton said in an interview that the plan was developed last January by staff members who thought they were operating under attorney-client privilege. It was shelved early on.
“This one didn’t make it to editing stage,” she said. “I take responsibility, the buck stops on my desk. I’m very apologetic and appalled this occurred.”