Video: Did Oregon’s governor lie about his knowledge of state exchange flop?

posted at 1:21 pm on January 31, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

Earlier this month, Democratic Governor John Kitzhaber of Oregon insisted that he and his office got blindsided by the nation’s biggest ObamaCare exchange flop, Cover Oregon. The web portal never successfully launched despite Kitzhaber’s claims that Oregon would lead the nation in ObamaCare implementation and expertise — and staked his reputation as a physician on it. Oddly, though, when the program collapsed, Kitzhaber told everyone, including KATU-TV, that he had not been told of any problems until they arose. When KATU tried to press Kitzhaber on that point, one of his aides brought a quick close to the interview.

That prompted more digging by KATU, which found numerous reports sent to Kitzhaber’s office predicting the collapse of the system long before its rollout. The discoveries make Kitzhaber look a lot less than honest or a lot less than competent, or both:

The claim was incredible because the website had already missed its Oct. 1 launch date. Kitzhaber was, in effect, saying he didn’t know there were problems until weeks after one of the most important projects under his watch had already failed.

It was incredible because mountains of reports from the state’s quality-assurance contractor had been raising glaring red flags for almost two years.

It was incredible because the state had implemented a stringent set of checks and balances for the specific purpose of making sure the project didn’t spiral without people in power knowing.

And it was incredible because the KATU Investigators have unearthed emails and conducted interviews laying out repeated attempts by lawmakers and others involved with the project to get Kitzhaber’s help in righting what was clearly a sinking ship.

KATU’s review of thousands of pages of emails and reports, as well as interviews with many of the key people involved, suggest that either Kitzhaber knew more than he has acknowledged, or that he and his staff somehow remained oblivious to the unfolding disaster despite numerous attempts to bring it to their attention.

The documents also make hash of Kitzhaber’s argument that he had no way of knowing what happened:

From the outset, project oversight was designed to be headed by the governor’s office.

The KATU Investigators obtained an organizational chart illustrating the oversight structure. At the top is the governor’s office, to which several different groups report.

The documents had some odd redactions, which Kitzhaber’s office refused to explain. Instead, KATU simply went around them and talked to the people involved. That produced this smoking gun:

On Sept. 20, 2012, Richardson emailed Kitzhaber to say that he was concerned not only about the alarming findings in Maximus’ reports, but by the fact the warnings seemed to be going unheeded by all involved.

“If you were the investor and I your legal counsel, I would be advising you that the QA report makes it abundantly clear, the HIX-IT project is on a path toward failure and disgrace,” he wrote.

“Since HIX-IT leadership continues to ignore warnings from me, the QA and (the Legislative Fiscal Office), the success of this project and responsibility for the $59 million invested in it rests on your shoulders as Governor and the Executive Branch’s C.E.O.”

Richardson also reached out to Goldberg and Department of Administrative Services COO Michael Jordan.

Goldberg emailed Richardson back on Sept 22: “I have discussed with the Governor’s office this morning and we will be pulling together the staff from both the Health Insurance Exchange Corporation and the IT side of things within the Oregon Health Authority this coming week to address.”

Richardson said he called the governor several days later because he had received no response, and Kitzhaber then returned his call.

“He assured me that he understands the severity of the situation and that he will talk with Goldberg directly and get this taken care of,” Richardson told KATU.

This video runs about 22 minutes, and it’s worth watching all the way through. It’s amazing, mostly so because of the completely inept manner in which Kitzhaber handled both Cover Oregon and the failure itself. One of the biggest lessons from Watergate and a myriad of other political scandals is this: It’s not the crime, it’s the cover-up. The cover-up in this case started well before the rollout of ObamaCare, and continued as late as now even when it became obvious that Kitzhaber had to know more than he admitted.

This video absolutely destroys Kitzhaber’s credibility, and the project itself.

Update: I didn’t notice this at first, but KATU played “Name That Party” in its otherwise excellent report. Kitzhaber is a Democrat, and I’ve edited the opening sentence to reflect that.


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Is he a D?

Schadenfreude on January 31, 2014 at 1:23 PM

Which troll preached “morals” about Grimm…just two days ago?

Schadenfreude on January 31, 2014 at 1:23 PM

He “knows” as much as does obama.

They are only “the smaaaahtest people in the world”, alas…which is it?

Schadenfreude on January 31, 2014 at 1:25 PM

This video absolutely destroys Kitzhaber’s credibility, and the project itself.

Pity!

Schadenfreude on January 31, 2014 at 1:26 PM

John Albert Kitzhaber (born March 5, 1947) is an American politician who is the 37th and current Governor of Oregon. A member of the Democratic Party …

OmahaConservative on January 31, 2014 at 1:27 PM

Kitzhaber is an emergency room doctor.

Where does it say that he’s a D? Nowhere. Why not?

Schadenfreude on January 31, 2014 at 1:29 PM

Video: Did Oregon’s governor lie about his knowledge of state exchange flop?

…*hint*…
D E M O C R A T

KOOLAID2 on January 31, 2014 at 1:29 PM

Kitzhaber is a medical doctor…

OmahaConservative on January 31, 2014 at 1:30 PM

…*hint*…
D E M O C R A T

KOOLAID2 on January 31, 2014 at 1:29 PM

Except for OC’s contribution nowhere is that pointed out.

Schadenfreude on January 31, 2014 at 1:30 PM

It’s amazing, mostly so because of the completely inept manner in which Kitzhaber handled both Cover Oregon and the failure itself. One of the biggest lessons from Watergate and a myriad of other political scandals is this: It’s not the crime, it’s the cover-up. The cover-up in this case started well before the rollout of ObamaCare, and continued as late as now even when it became obvious that Kitzhaber had to know more than he admitted.

Frankly, we need to be holding Barack Obama and Kathleen Sebelius to the same level of accountability over the botched federal launch of Healthcare.gov. It’s clear that there are multiple scandals related – and that a cover-up has been undertaken by the Administration.

We’ve seen reports of similar warnings regarding Healthcare.gov and it’s functionality / security – yet nothing was done and $600M+ was effectively flushed down the drain.

But there are no real journalists who seek to expose the truth behind the numerous Obama Administration scandals….nor is their will do more than just kabuki theater in the GOP led House.

Athos on January 31, 2014 at 1:30 PM

Jon Stewart thinks “better procurement” would have fixed this.

MTF on January 31, 2014 at 1:32 PM

Learn more about the D-gov. of OR.

He is a shame to the healthcare community.

All doctors, med. device companies (Boston Scientific, for ex.), and all ins. companies who stood with obama on obama’care, go under and then go to Hell.

Schadenfreude on January 31, 2014 at 1:32 PM

Ed, please update

Earlier this month, D-Governor John Kitzhaber of Oregon

They would emphasize if he were a R as if the world would instantly end…

Schadenfreude on January 31, 2014 at 1:35 PM

Of course, he’s a democrat. But the media always covers for them –

When we write, we need to label them Democrat Katzhaber, Democrat Pelosi, Democrat Reid, Democrat Obama.

we assume people know – they don’t. And until Rs start labeling the Dems, Dems, it won’t change much.
Hard core Dems will never change but there would be a bigger group in the middle or willing to switch if Dems were called Dems.

MN J on January 31, 2014 at 1:35 PM

Ed,

Any reason why you failed to put a (D) after Governor John Kitzhaber’s name?

I’m used to that on liberal sites……

Conservative4Ever on January 31, 2014 at 1:36 PM

All drug companies, see Eli Lilly, who stood with obama on obama’care’, go under, then to Hell too.

Schadenfreude on January 31, 2014 at 1:37 PM

Conservative4Ever on January 31, 2014 at 1:36 PM

It’s a combination of me just knowing that anyway, and me missing the Name That Party aspect of the report. I’ve updated the post.

Ed Morrissey on January 31, 2014 at 1:37 PM

Oddly, though, when the program collapsed, Kitzhaber told everyone, including KATU-TV, that he had not been told of any problems until they arose.

Funny how Democrat chief executives are out of the loop on such big government projects. Meanwhile, Christie is supposed to know about every single lane closure in his state.

rbj on January 31, 2014 at 1:39 PM

A Democrat not being truthful…..you guys crack me up!

ToddPA on January 31, 2014 at 1:39 PM

Earlier this month, Democratic Governor John Kitzhaber of Oregon insisted that he and his office got blindsided by the nation’s biggest ObamaCare exchange flop, Cover Oregon.

Yeah, Ed!!!

Schadenfreude on January 31, 2014 at 1:39 PM

I think all democrats should adopt this campaign slogan, “Vote for me, I’m so smart that I won’t even know what’s going on.” Seems they all end up saying it at some point anyway.

Flange on January 31, 2014 at 1:43 PM

Funny how Democrat chief executives are out of the loop on such big government projects. Meanwhile, Christie is supposed to know about every single lane closure in his state.

rbj on January 31, 2014 at 1:39 PM

Yeah, it’s almost like there’s a double standard or something. Almost.

Bitter Clinger on January 31, 2014 at 1:44 PM

I didn’t notice this at first, but KATU played “Name That Party” in its otherwise excellent report. Kitzhaber is a Democrat, and I’ve edited the opening sentence to reflect that.

Fair enough but I think most of us probably would have assumed that! I can’t imagine the circumstances where Oregon would end up with a Republican governor. Nevertheless, it is always nice to point out the party of the guy who clipped his own wings.

Happy Nomad on January 31, 2014 at 1:50 PM

It doesn’t matter.

Governor Blue Jeans could do anything here in Oregon. Multnomah County & the Eugene/Corvallis Area would eat his crap and beg for more.

portlandon on January 31, 2014 at 1:52 PM

So much of the same thing happening on all levels with this crap sandwich of a law. It must be deliberate, so, there must be a concentrated effort in this country, everywhere, to bring it down. That’s the only explanation.

HiJack on January 31, 2014 at 2:03 PM

Fair enough but I think most of us probably would have assumed that! I can’t imagine the circumstances where Oregon would end up with a Republican governor. Nevertheless, it is always nice to point out the party of the guy who clipped his own wings.

Happy Nomad on January 31, 2014 at 1:50 PM

Well, Washington, it’s neighbor to the north and every bit as liberal, had a Republican governor for years. Of course, that was a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…

HiJack on January 31, 2014 at 2:05 PM

Schadenfreude on January 31, 2014 at 1:39 PM

Schad – I’d be interested in your feedback on this comment I just posted in the “Boehner to GOP caucus” thread.

I’ve tried a “new approach” which is a little more agressive against the Democrats.

Thanks.

PolAgnostic on January 31, 2014 at 2:08 PM

Well, Washington, it’s neighbor to the north and every bit as liberal, had a Republican governor for years. Of course, that was a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…

HiJack on January 31, 2014 at 2:05 PM

You mean back when King County vote totals didn’t come in excess of 100% of registered voters?

Happy Nomad on January 31, 2014 at 2:20 PM

Not to worry, folks. As a 27 year resident of this failed liberal progressive experiment I can assure you with 94% confidence that the good Dr. will be re-elected for his fourth term. He continues to enjoy full and compete support from the democrat controlled Oregon house and senate, the unions will provide him all of the cover he requires and the state’s three major population centers reliably vote democrat, regardless of who the candidate is, by a 70/30 margin. Does the name David “Tiger” Wu ring any bells; or perhaps our recent mayor who was an unconvicted pederast? He may not have any race, gender or sexual orientation cards to play, but up here in the Occupied Northwest Territories, a democrat does not need any.

BlueStateExpat on January 31, 2014 at 2:23 PM

Did he LIE?

Is he a DEMOCRAT?

There ya go…

easyt65 on January 31, 2014 at 2:29 PM

he deflected questions about why he wasn’t clued in to the website’s disastrous roll-out.

Kitzhaber said he is waiting for an internal review of the debacle before he weighs in on what went wrong. But he warned against looking for dark conspiracies.

“This isn’t New Jersey, and I don’t think you’re going to find any traffic cones out there,” Kitzhaber said.

Cone

kcewa on January 31, 2014 at 2:43 PM

He’s an embarrassment to the medical community.

Oregon Health Sciences University is supposed to have one of the best medical informatics programs in the country and they couldn’t find anyone in the state that could run this? In a state with a physician as governor? This is pathetic.

talkingpoints on January 31, 2014 at 2:51 PM

Remember the time before the democratic party sold itself to the billionaires when honesty and competence were actually applicable to the party. Those were the days my friend, I thought they would never end. So Sad!

duncantwn on January 31, 2014 at 3:01 PM

The prospect of accepting a scintilla of personal responsibility for anything is Red Kryptonite to a democrat.

BlueStateExpat on January 31, 2014 at 3:02 PM

“This isn’t New Jersey, and I don’t think you’re going to find any traffic cones out there,” Kitzhaber said.

Cone

kcewa on January 31, 2014 at 2:43 PM

They were cones!

Flange on January 31, 2014 at 3:08 PM

He is Oregon’s first governor to win three terms, and last month he announced he is running for an historic fourth term.

Christien on January 31, 2014 at 3:35 PM

Kitzhaber is a Democrat, and I’ve edited the opening sentence to reflect that.

It’s OK, anyone living in this benighted state knows that he’s a donk.

Oregon hasn’t had a Republican governor since 1976. And despite having a lying donk at the helm that even a local outlet of the media arm of the donkey party has exposed as such, that streak is in no danger of being broken.

Spurius Ligustinus on January 31, 2014 at 3:44 PM

D’s control both the governorship and both houses in Oregon. No high-office R’s anywhere. The lib Portland area is the tail that wags the Oregon dog, politically. (Exhibit A: two do-nothing Obama-rubber-stamper Dem U.S. Senators, Merkley and Wyden.)

Trivia question: did any state with an R governor implement their own O-care exchange?

Marcola on January 31, 2014 at 3:56 PM

Lying Liars, Who Lyingly Lie.

Or, as I like to call them: Democrats.

orangemtl on January 31, 2014 at 4:44 PM

Marcola

Almost all the Republican governors chose to leave the operation of the exchanges to the federal government. The exception was Utah where, as indicated above, the governor decided to set up a small business exchange but leave the individual exchange to the federal government. In Iowa, the Republican governor opted for a partnership with the federal government as did the governor of Michigan. Nevada, Idaho and New Mexico were the only states where Republican governors opted to create a state-run exchange.

Schadenfreude on January 31, 2014 at 4:47 PM

The MSM will get right on this as soon as they get done pillorying the Democratic governor of Maryland.

GarandFan on January 31, 2014 at 4:59 PM

Is he a D?

Oregon. Do you even need to ask?

Cipherprime on January 31, 2014 at 6:23 PM

Not convinced of a real scandal here. They were just incompetently following the timetable of Democrat Obamacare ™. That politicians cannot execute a complex project against a timeline is not a big story. Incompetence and hubris are critical skills for a politician.

Voters need to decide what to do with them. Kick them out? Or give them more time and money to complete their federally-mandated disaster?

virgo on February 2, 2014 at 6:41 AM

BTW, perhaps the governor is distracted by demands of his other role as the doctor in Downton Abbey?

virgo on February 2, 2014 at 1:17 PM