Dennis Richardson on Cover Oregon: Oregonians deserve the truth

Dennis Richardson SOS

Dennis Richardson for Secretary of State

Dennis Richardson Statement on US Congressional Review of Cover Oregon

Central Point, Oregon – Secretary of State candidate Dennis Richardson, who as an Oregon state legislator and Ways and Means Co-Chair, blew the whistle on the Cover Oregon scandal, this week called for increased transparency and a complete audit of Cover Oregon.

Richardson cites the release of a US Congressional Oversight and Reform Committee report that found Governor Kitzhaber mismanaged Cover Oregon funds and made management decisions for personal political gain during his 2014 gubernatorial campaign. Further, the Congressional committee has asked the US Department of Justice to launch a criminal investigation into the collusion between Kitzhaber’s campaign and his public employee staff as it related to management decisions for Cover Oregon.

“After $300 million in tax dollars wasted on building the Cover Oregon website, and now with millions in General Fund dollars being spent on litigation between the Oregon Department of Justice and Oracle, it’s time Oregonians receive a full accounting of what really happened at Cover Oregon,” Richardson stated. “It’s for the US Department of Justice to resolve the issue of whether a crime was committed, but at the local level, it’s time to shine a light on where our tax dollars went and what lessons can be learned to avoid such waste in the future.”

Early into its launch, Richardson warned Governor Kitzhaber that Cover Oregon was off the rails and bleeding money. A report from Maximus, an independent quality assurance vendor, nailed the project with numerous red flags and warned that Cover Oregon was “high risk” moving forward. Political appointees hired by Kitzhaber to oversee Cover Oregon testified before the legislature that the project was on track, even as behind the scenes, political advisors were working to keep the truth from being made public during Kitzhaber’s re-election campaign.

“Nearly two years later, newspaper outlets are still waiting for records requests to be made public and Oregonians still don’t have the truth,” exclaimed Richardson. “Statewide elected officials worked to shield Kitzhaber and continue to have zero interest in getting to the bottom of what really happened with Cover Oregon.”

Richardson noted that the failure of the project resulted in Oregonians losing their health coverage, and further attempts to resolve issues with the health exchange continue to be made without good data. “The legislature made the decision to ‘abolish’ Cover Oregon, with no understanding of whether that was the right decision. It led to another decision to move to the Federal exchange, which has now led to another decision to explore creating yet another state exchange. All this, and we never once looked back at where it all went wrong.” Richardson said the only way to stop making repeated and costly mistakes is for the Secretary of State to do a thorough audit of Cover Oregon.

“As Secretary of State, we’ll do a complete dissection of Cover Oregon so we can get to the bottom of why it failed,” he said. “And in the future, all large-scale projects will be assigned an auditor at the start of a project so that we catch problems before taxpayer dollars are wasted.”

Richardson said all findings of a Cover Oregon audit will be transparent to the public and the press, regardless of their results. “We can’t have a Secretary of State who will use the office to shield those who were responsible for the loss of millions of tax dollars. Oregonians deserve the truth.”