Committee releases report on failure of Cover Oregon

Washington, D.C. – The political battle over who’s to blame for Cover Oregon’s failure’s, software giant Oracle or Oregon state officials, is now being fought in the halls of the U.S. Capitol. This morning a scathing new report was released from a republican-led House committee. It lays the blame for the waste of more than $300 million dollars of federal taxpayer money on Oregon officials and the Federal Government’s lack of oversight. Among the findings in this new report, Governor Kitzhaber’s campaign staffers who were focused on his re-election bid had widespread, and illegal, political influence in official state business.

The report by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee was released on Wednesday. It details findings from a year-long investigation into the failure of Cover Oregon. According to the report, the committee has sent letters to the U.S. Department of Justice and the Oregon Attorney General referring the matter for criminal investigation. Additionally, the report asks Oregon’s Attorney General to recuse herself from that investigation due to her involvement in a pending lawsuit by Oregon against Oracle.

The US House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has released a new report titled, “How mismanagement and political interference squandered $305 million Federal taxpayer dollars.” Their year-long investigation into the collapse of Cover Oregon included the review of over 170,000 pages of emails and reports. Among the findings from Republican Chairman Jason Chaffetz’s committee that then Governor John Kitzhaber’s campaign staff members interfered with official state business related to Cover Oregon. The findings indicate the staff undermined the work being done to improve Oracle’s failed health care site by manipulating the process toward for political reasons.

“His campaign people took over, essentially, the responsibility of Cover Oregon and tried to transfer the blame to Oracle. It was a political move. So they did this and sued Oracle for huge amounts of damages. And so now whether or not Oracle has to pay, or the state has to pay, is part of this lawsuit,” says former Central Point Legislator Dennis Richardson. The former Representative first began airing his concerns with how the state and Kitzhaber managed Cover Oregon years ago. Today he tells NBC5 News that Oracle was only paid $240 million dollars, meaning $65 million of the $305 million dollars allocated to the project is unaccounted for. “We don’t know where it went. That’s why there needs to be an audit,” says Richardson.

The ranking Democrat, Elijah Cummings of Maryland, offered a sharp rebuke of the Congressional Republican report. Cummings points out that the Committee’s Chair released an unofficial staff report instead of an official one, which would have required debate and the approval of the entire committee. Numerous media outlets are also reporting Chairman Chaffetz has received thousands of dollars in political contributions from Oracle and the law firm the software giant is using to sue Oregon.

“It certainly is an embarrassment to him,” Richardson says of Chaffetz, ” but it would only be a problem if the facts that are brought forward are incorrect or untrue.”

As the political back and forth continues one thing is clear: $305-million dollars in taxpayer money is gone, and the blame game is continuing. In 2014, State Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum sued Oracle for failing to provide the functional health exchange website. Oracle has also filed its own lawsuits against the state.

“We’re trying to try this case in the courts,” says Oregon’s Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum to NBC5 News in an interview in November, “but they keep kind of going to the media, and I know you guys need some attention, but that’s not really the place to try your case. So, we feel we have an excellent case against oracle.”

“Let’s look past the wrangling and look at the evidence,” says Richardson.

Last year Oracle’s attempt to sue several of Kitzhaber’s consultants was thrown out. According to the Portland Tribune, Judge Henry Kantor tossed the suit because Oracle’s work was fraught with bugs and that fixing it would have been costly.

Several calls to Southern Oregon Democrats, including State Senator Alan Bates and State Representative Peter Buckley, were not returned today.

You can read the full Republican staff report courtesy of the Portland Tribune HERE.

U.S. Representative Greg Walden released a statement saying in part, “For over a year, the Oversight Committee has investigated the failure of Cover Oregon, including reviewing over 170,000 pages of emails and reports. Their report is very disturbing, but, sadly, not surprising. It is further confirmation of what really transpired and who was responsible for the Cover Oregon website debacle.” You can read Rep. Walden’s statement HERE.

A dissenting report made by Democratic Staff said in part, “The Republican staff of the Committee issued their own report today, attempting to shift blame for Oracle’s massive failures onto the state and federal governments. However, their report ignores basic facts, disregards Oracle’s numerous failures, and downplays or entirely omits key evidence that contradicts their narrative.” You can read the full report courtesy of the Portland Tribune HERE.

A statement made by Former Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber can be found HERE, courtesy of KATU.


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