9/30/2014

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Politics

Cogen's budget addition saved program headed by Manhas

Cogen's budget addition saved program headed by Manhas

PORTLAND, Ore. – Multnomah County Chair Jeff Cogen made a last-minute addition to this year's budget that saved a county program headed by the woman with whom he was having an affair, KATU News confirmed Tuesday night.

The amount of money involved hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Funding for the county health department's Office of Policy and Planning had been eliminated in a draft of this year's budget. But in May, Cogen not only restored the office's money, he more than doubled its budget.

Two weeks ago Cogen admitted to the almost two-year affair with Sonia Manhas. The addition of money to her program occurred during the affair.

A February 2013 budget document from Manhas shows her office operated on $112,000 in grants. But those grants were expiring. That meant there was zero money available in the draft budget for the office Cogen's lover headed up.

But as county chair, Cogen pulled more than $225,000 from other county funds. That not only restored the budget for Manhas' office, it more than doubled the funding for it.

Cogen told a county spokesman that he didn't have any comment on Manhas' program offer. When asked if the chairman had any comments on Manhas or their affair, Cogan told the spokesman he is willing to talk about "the regular county business."

KATU wasn't able to reach Cogen by phone or email Tuesday night for comment.

Meanwhile, KATU has learned investigators from the state attorney general's office are expected to start interviews Wednesday that will include speaking to two county commissioners.

The county has also received subpoenas for documents tied to the case.

Since his admission, Cogen has been under pressure to resign. Last week all four county commissioners voted on a resolution calling for him to step down. Cogen was the only dissenting vote and refused to resign.

The day before the vote, Manhas was pressed to resign from her county job. She did.

The Oregon attorney general is investigating to determine whether Cogen committed any crime.

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