Former Klamath Irrigation District attorney Lawrence Kogan says the intent of an ethics complaint filed against him was to “disrupt and tortuously interfere” with his representation of the district.
KID board members Dave Cacka and Greg Carleton submitted the complaint against Kogan to the Oregon State Bar in early May.
Kogan’s employment has been the source of much controversy in the district since his employment contract was signed in February. Several Klamath Project irrigators have questioned his role with the district and have voiced dismay with the $58,000 invoice Kogan submitted in June for six weeks of work in March and April.
According to KID meeting minutes, Kogan was hired solely to assist the district in negotiating a contract to repair the deteriorating C Canal flume.
The complaint filed by Cacka and Carleton alleges Kogan has acted “far beyond the scope” of his contract and has improperly consulted with board members in business-related decision-making.
A separate complaint against KID’s general counsel, Nathan Rietmann, was filed at the same time. The complaint against Rietmann alleges the attorney “aided and coached” three board members — Brent Cheyne, Grant Knoll and Ken Smith — in violating public meeting law and that his representation of KID presents a “clear conflict of interest” with another client, Klamath County Commissioner Tom Mallams.
After the complaints were filed, the attorneys had until June 6 to submit a response. Portland-based attorney Peter Jarvis submitted a response on behalf of Rietmann on June 2. Kogan’s deadline was extended until July 15.
In a July 15 letter addressed to the Oregon State Bar, Kogan states the complaint filed against him is “false, untrue and without foundation, and therefore should be dismissed.”
In the letter, Kogan asserts that his employment contract, signed Feb. 29, authorizes him to provide legal, advisory and consulting services.
Kogan said the complaint alleging he counseled KID board members Cheyne, Knoll and Smith to violate Oregon public meeting laws is untrue.
According to Kogan’s statement, he phoned the three board members before sending an April 4 letter to Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement moderator, Ed Sheets, only to tell the board members he was sending the letter and to ask them if they objected.
Although the letter “officially” invoked a dispute resolution process, Kogan maintains it did not take any action to change KID’s legal status as a signatory to the agreement.
In response to allegations that Kogan threatened board members with legal action — and to pursue “violation(s) to the fullest extent of the law” — for discussing district business with individuals not on the board, the attorney states measures such as “censure and the filing of ethics complaints, aside from litigation, (can) be taken against KID board and management members.”
Kogan maintains that based on the terms of his employment contract, it was within his rights to demand KID and the Bureau of Reclamation cease any communication that did not involved him.
“In my professional opinion, these actions were necessary to ensure my ability to negotiate a more favorable federal contract for the district,” Kogan wrote.
The KID board of directors terminated Kogan’s employment with the district earlier this month, in 2-1 vote at the district’s monthly board meeting.
Kogan told the Herald and News Wednesday that he does not know when he will submit a final invoice.
Kogan said he can “conceive of scenarios” in which the district may rehire him, but nothing is certain.
“You never know what events may transpire,” Kogan said. “I would welcome coming back in and taking care of business.”