Saturday, April 11, 2015

"The Governor's idiot fiance"....what might be read into Duke Shepherd's "harsh" email about Cylvia Hayes


The other day, the Oregonian published an unsolicited email from Duke Shepherd, who had served as ex-Governor Kitzhaber's labor and human services policy adviser. The key part of the email reads:

For the record, other than keeping her occasionally updated on what we might be doing, the Governor's idiot fiancé had no engagement into the $100 M. Kitzhaber wanted a "game changing" investment in housing for homeless families -- because it cut across all the key priorities, but especially Early Learning. He directed Margaret and me to make it happen. We did. Margaret especially (we initially were aiming for $200M).

Cylvia had lots of mind numbing meetings on poverty. She gave lots of speeches. She had no role in this substantial and critically important decision on housing for the 15-17 budget. We kept her posted to keep her off our backs and off of his. But the budget wasn't hers.

"[I]diot fiance" ... ? That is pretty harsh (as the Oregonian characterized it).

Note that Shepherd now works for the Oregon Health & Science University. Back when he was working for Kitzhaber, though, he apparently dared not express such open contempt to Cylvia Hayes. The Oregonian printed a presumably representative email in which Shepherd, after being castigated by Hayes for not keeping her updated about some project, responded, "I'm very sorry for my oversight in communication on this matter. I should have remembered to update you in a timely manner."

To be fair, Shepherd's response seems entirely professional and civil. The point is that it stands in stark contrast to his current email. So what are we to make of the change in tone and substance?

One possibility is that this is some kind of damage control on behalf of Kitzhaber. By calling Hayes the "idiot fiance," Shepherd distances himself from her, and thereby adds credibility in stating that she had no influence on the low income housing project. If other former aides to the ex-Governor have similar things to say, that would benefit Hayes and Kitzhaber - though at the price of public humiliation - because it would tend to weaken any theory of influence peddling by her.

I went back to the known FBI subpoena to see if Duke Shepherd's name is listed; it's not. Of course, just because someone is listed on the subpoena doesn't mean he or she is a potential target*, and not being listed on the subpoena isn't any kind of immunity. However, it does suggest that as of right now, Shepherd's previous project isn't of primary interest to the FBI.

* Nkenge Harmon-Johnson is probably the easiest example of this; she's listed on the subpoena as someone whom emails to or from are to be produced to the FBI, yet she hasn't requested public funding for a lawyer, and it appears that she was a victim of Hayes' capricious temper.

Another possibility for the harsh email is that there is no more concern about burning a bridge, because the bridge has already collapsed completely with no hope of ever being rebuilt. If other former aides also recognize that the bridge is gone, there may be cooperation with the FBI going on behind the scenes.

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