Oregon Corrections audit finds conflicts of interest

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SALEM, Ore. — An internal audit released by the Department of Corrections shows that several conflicts of interest existed in contracts approved by the former head of the agency that manages Oregon's prison industries.

DOC Director Colette Peters ordered the audit that was released Wednesday after firing Oregon Corrections Enterprises Director Rob Killgore in March. The "change of administrator review" was designed to verify that Killgore's dismissal had been handled properly and that the agency's contracts were compliant with state rules.

Killgore was fired following a Department of Justice investigation into the department that he initiated. He has sued the department for retaliating against a whistle-blower, but Peters said she fired him for flouting her directions regarding the future of OCE and its programs.

It found no problems with Killgore's exit from the agency, but identified three conflicts of interest in the contracts. Investigators said each incident benefited a member of the OCE Advisory Council.

Problems arose in each of the following contracts:

• OCE entered into a potential public-private partnership agreement with laundry service Ecotex and asked advisory council member Neil Bryant to provide a legal analysis and opinion on the issues surrounding the agreement. OCE paid Bryant's firm $9,401.50 for the opinion and Bryant quit the council five days after Ecotex requested the potential partnership.

• OCE entered into an interagency agreement with Portland State University that cost $165,000. An advisory council member quit the day the agreement was signed and went to work for the PSU review team.

• OCE allowed council member and AFL-CIO official Mark Warne to design and implement a program at Coffee Creek Correctional Institution, which cost $10,714.29 per month for 14 months, a total of $150,000. Warne resigned from the council six days after the agreement for the program was signed.

The auditors recommended that OCE further review its contracts and create advisory council bylaws.