The State of Oregon will pay a former state prison executive $450,000 to settle his whistleblower claims that he was terminated for exposing dubious spending and hiring practices within the Oregon Department of Corrections.
According to The Oregonian, the settlement is one of the largest payoffs the state has made in recent history. It includes $25,000 for financial losses, $150,000 for attorney fees, and $275,000 for emotional distress whistleblower plaintiff Rob Killgore attributed to corrections officials lashing out against him.
Mr. Killgore was the administrator of Oregon Corrections Enterprises (OCE), a semi-independent agency that runs factories, call centers and other operations within eight Oregon prisons. He was hired for the position in 2002 and fired in March 2013, allegedly after he had presented a thick binder of documents to state officials detailing a decade’s worth of questionable acquisitions and spending by prison officials totaling $5 million.
Oregon’s Criminal Justice Division (CJD) investigated Mr. Kilgore’s allegations, but found only that Corrections Department officials had made “repeated requests” for “questionable items.” The CJD report also found a “culture within the DOC that seems to depend upon inappropriate ‘gestures of goodwill’ between DOC and OCE.”
The Oregon Government Ethics Commission is also investigating Mitch Morrow, a deputy of Colette Peters, the Corrections Department director who fired Mr. Killgore. In his whistleblower complaint, Mr. Killgore alleges Mr. Morrow abused his position to help his son get a job inside the state prison system.
According to The Oregonian, although the corrections department denies allegations that its officers acted inappropriately, “the size of Killgore’s settlement … suggests that the state’s attorneys calculated that a jury could find Killgore believable.”