AG counsel resignation surrounded by mystery and problems

Carrie Bartoldus
North Cost Oregon Blog

According to Oregon Attorney General John Kroger’s press release Tuesday, April 20th, his special counsel for the environment, Brent Foster resigned due to misrepresentation. The Attorney General said the case was turned over to the District Attorney of Marion County Walt Beglau for review. Repeated emails to the District Attorney to confirm that Foster’s case has been turned over to him have gone unanswered and in a phone call to the Marion County District Attorney’s front office today it was stated that no case has been opened on Brent Foster nor has any information been received from the Attorney General that the person answering the phone was aware of.

Special Counsel for the Environment, according to Tony Green, Director of Communications and Policy for the Department of Justice, has no job description nor defined duties. “Attorney General John Kroger ran for office as a pro-environment candidate and wanted someone in the front office to provide him with legal and policy advice,” Green further clarified. Brent Foster was the first, and so far only, special counsel for the environment to be appointed, his salary was $7,224-$10,657 per month.

Foster had been the Director of Columbia Riverkeeper as well as a lawyer and in the administration for The Oregon Chapter of the Sierra Club. At this time it is unknown whether or not there will be a replacement for Foster. It is also unknown what Brent Foster misrepresented or who he misrepresented to. The Attorney General’s press release vaguely referred to a Hood River District Attorney’s case against the Hood River Juice Company.

Before Foster could begin to represent Oregon on many matters Attorney General Kroger had to obtain waivers from certain agencies within the state. To do this Foster wrote an interoffice memo detailing the projects he had worked on and how they would not be conflicts of interest as he took on his work as a state employee. Attorney General Kroger assured Governor Kulongoski that Foster was being interviewed by his office for conflicts of interest. Three months after asking for the waivers to be signed Governor Kulongoski okayed the release waivers, asked the departments to sign off on them and Brent Foster was released to begin his, as yet, undescribed duties.

In a series of emails that NorthCoastOregon was able to finally obtain from the Department of Justice, Foster’s duties appear to have ranged from writing legislation, to creating a private advisory board of his previous colleagues for the newly created environmental crimes unit, to helping certain groups find projects to apply for stimulus funding, to being the point person in the AG’s office “whose mission is to stop this [LNG and associated pipelines] project,” the last according to a set of emails starting with Yamhill County Commissioner Mary Stern.

The Attorney General’s office would not comment further on Brent Foster when asked what exactly had been turned over to the Marion County District Attorney to investigate or when it had been turned over to the county district attorney. No clarification on what Foster had misrepresented or to whom he had misrepresented it has been provided by the Attorney General’s office or the Marion County District Attorney’s office.

NorthCoastOregon is continuing to follow the trail of the emails and other documentation and information that continues to come in as this story develops. Documentation will be posted.

Just as this story went to publication Marion County DA Walt Beglau finally replied in an email stating, “This is a Marion County case. DDA Paige Clarkson is assigned. No other information is being released at this time.”

Related Links & Media (bold writing indicates clickable links throughout the article)

Foster’s interoffice memo

DEQ signed waiver including Kroger & Kulongoski Letters

Foster writing legislation

Foster applies for stimulus funding

Yamhill County Commissioner Mary Stern email

Yamhill County Board Meeting Minutes January 14th

PIR on Foster Stalled AG Demands More Money

Cat’s Out of the Bag on LNG Opposition’s ‘Secret’ Meetings

Formal Complaint Filed Against Columbia Riverkeepers Political Activities