Grand jury to consider Cover Oregon evidence

Grand jury to consider Cover Oregon evidence
This is a still image from one of the Cover Oregon television ads running on local TV stations. According to the ad agency that created the commercials, the two most well-known ads cost between $100,000 and $160,000 to make.

PORTLAND, Ore. – A grand jury will meet Tuesday to consider documents related to possible criminal wrongdoing in the building of the failed Cover Oregon website, according to Republican gubernatorial candidate Dennis Richardson.

Subpoenas were issued to multiple organizations, requiring they turn over all communication between or among the following people:

  • Oregon Health Authority and Cover Oregon head Bruce Goldberg
  • Goldberg’s predecessor at Cover Oregon, Rocky King
  • Former OHA CIO Carolyn Lawson, who was first charged with building the Cover Oregon website
  • Lawson’s top deputy, Steve Powell
  • Former Cover Oregon CIO Aaron Karjala
  • Former Cover Oregon COO Triz delaRosa
  • Mike Benetto, who was Gov. John Kitzhaber’s healthcare policy adviser and is now his chief of staff
  • Bob Cummings, an analyst for the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Office
  • Ying Kwong, an analyst for the Department of Administrative Services
  • John Cvetko, who works for Maximus, the independent quality-assurance contractor for Cover Oregon

The subpoena does not require attendance at the grand jury by any of those named.

Specifically, the grand jury is seeking documents related to presentations made to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services during “gate reviews."

Gate reviews are periodic assessments officials had to pass in order to maintain funding obtained through “early innovator” grants that funded the bulk of the now-failed Cover Oregon website.

In February, former state Rep. Patrick Sheehan told the On Your Side Investigators he had gone to the FBI with allegations that Cover Oregon project managers initiated the design of dummy web pages to convince the federal government the project was further along than it actually was.

"The issue had to do with federal funding and proving some amount of compliance with the federal regulation in order to get funding,” he said at the time.

The U.S. attorney will present the evident that would be admissible at trial, and the grand jury members will vote on whether they believe the evidence - if left unexplained - would justify a guilty verdict if a case were to go to trial.