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DOJ drops Handy investigation

The Oregon Department of Justice sent a letter to the Lane County Counsel today informing the county of the decision not to pursue the investigation against Handy due to insufficient evidence he had violated any criminal laws. 

The county apparently sent out its press release about the issue before contacting Handy's attorney. Handy said in response to the news and the press release:

It is great to be exonerated by the Department of Justice; I believe that the state could clearly see the political motivations behind the allegations and that Lane County, and John Brown, overreacted and wasted the time, attention, and resources of the state.  I disagree with the press release from Lane County that there are still issues being considered by the Ethics Commission or the Secretary of State’s office; my information is that there is nothing further pending from any state office and that this is over.

My supporters and I have learned to celebrate justice wherever we find it and we will enjoy this moment.  I also look forward to the resolution of the pending lawsuits by the state and federal courts that I have filed against Lane County.  I believe that the current practice of “might makes right” in place in Lane County has lead to some tremendous abuse; I look forward to the truth being exposed so that these practices will end.

On May 3, Commissioners Sid Leiken, Jay Bozievich and Faye Stewart, along with County Administrator Liane Richardson, held an emergency meeting and decided to release allegations against Handy made by attorney Alan Thayer representing Eugene businessman John Brown in regard to a donation towards Handy's $20,000 debt from the Seneca Timber-funded Dumdi case. Handy has since filed a suit alleging the meeting was a violation of Oregon open meetings laws. He called the allegations a "smear tactic."

Handy said he checked with the county’s finance department before asking supporters to assist with the debt.

Handy said at press conference in May that the allegations were timed to hurt him in the May 15 election, for which voting was already under way. He said that the timing “was coldly and cynically planned to make sure that when the truth comes out, the election will be over.” He added, “If he was truly concerned about my behavior in this matter, he would have filed a complaint months and months ago after my request of him for a donation."

Though the handwritten note that spurred the allegations was received by John Brown  on Feb. 21, he and Thayer waited until shortly before the May 15 election to release the information, Handy said.

Handy lost the election to Pat Farr. According to an R-G article, Pat Farr and Alan Thayer are friends. 

Handy was locked out of his office when the DOJ investigation began, and even after the investigation concluded, the county continued to lock him out  — he was locked out for more than 80 days.

The press release from the county said: 

Department of Justice Concludes Their Investigation of Lane County Commissioner Rob Handy

On May 2, 2012 Lane County District Attorney Alex Gardner made a request that the Criminal Justice Division of the Oregon Department of Justice conduct an investigation of allegations that Lane County Commissioner Rob Handy had committed criminal acts under Oregon law. The allegations against Commissioner Handy were made in a letter dated May 2, 2012 drafted by Eugene attorney Alan Thayer on behalf of Lane County resident John Brown.  The letter also contained allegations that Commissioner Handy had violated various election and ethics laws. The Thayer letter referred the various allegations to Alex Gardner Lane County District Attorney, Kate Brown Oregon Secretary of State, Steve Trout Oregon Elections Division and the Oregon Government Ethics Commission.

The Oregon Department of Justice has found insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Commissioner Handy committed any crime under Oregon law.  Andrew Campbell, Senior Assistant Attorney General concluded: “While his conduct may have violated personnel policies and ethics rules, it does not meet the criteria for criminal prosecution.” Any additional questions regarding the reasoning behind the decision should be directed to the Oregon Department of Justice. A copy of the letter from the Oregon Department of Justice is attached.

The allegation that Commissioner Handy violated election laws is still under investigation by the Oregon Secretary of State.  Questions about the current status of their investigation should be directed to the Oregon Secretary of State.

The allegation that Commissioner Handy violated Oregon ethics laws was referred to the Oregon Government Ethics Commission. Questions about the current status of their investigation should be directed to the Oregon Government Ethics Commission.

Commissioner Handy has filed civil litigation against Lane County and various Lane County public officials and employees.  Lane County Presiding Judge Karsten Rasmussen has assigned Coos County Circuit Court Judge Richard L. Barron to hear both cases. The public meetings law case, Lane County Circuit Court case 16-12-13685 has been tentatively scheduled for a hearing on Lane County’s anti-Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (“anti-SLAPP”) motion on October 5, 2012. The public records lawsuit, Lane County Circuit Court case 16-12-10517, has previously been set for trial on January 8, 9 and 10th 2013.  As a result of the pending litigation, the County is unable to comment further on these matters. All of the County’s responses to the litigation filed by Commissioner Handy are public records and will constitute Lane County’s official response to the lawsuits filed by Commissioner Handy.

The DOJ document is below.

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DOJ to Lane Co DA on Comm Handy.pdf524.67 KB