PORTLAND, Ore. – Lies are alleged. Trust is lost. A career is in tatters.
It’s just another day in the saga of the Cover Oregon website.
Carolyn Lawson, the IT expert who tried and failed to build Oregon’s online insurance exchange, complained to an Oregon Health Authority official that she was forced to leave under false pretenses in an email uncovered by the On Your Side Investigators.
Lawson emailed OHA chief operating officer Suzanne Hoffman in January to complain that a reporter had been given her personal cell phone number, and asked that the state “allow me to move on with privacy and grace,” after one of the worst health-care-exchange website launches in the nation left her career in tatters.
“I have done everything I have been asked to do,” Lawson wrote. “I stuck to the talking points even though I protested … that they were not accurate. I walked away quietly when asked to resign. I wrote the resignation letter per the script I was given.”
KATU recently obtained a copy of Lawson’s resignation email, which, in fact, has a subject line of “Re: Resignation (trying again).” Claiming it’s a “highly personal choice,” Lawson then goes on to say she “recently experienced a family loss which has caused me to re-evaluate many things in my life including continuing to commute to Oregon while my family was in California.”
In her email to Hoffman, Lawson also writes that she was “disheartened” by Cover Oregon interim director Bruce Goldberg’s claim that Lawson and former Cover Oregon director Rocky King had deceptively led him to believe the website would be functional when she knew otherwise.
“That never happened,” Lawson wrote. ”I provided all the information I had and never withheld anything.”
The KATU Investigators recently uncovered major accountability issues on Lawson’s watch, and former Republican state Rep. Patrick Sheehan told KATU earlier this month that he’d gone to the FBI with allegations 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 website, which was originally supposed to go live on Oct. 1, became useable for agents and community partners last week. The general public, however, still isn’t able to sign up for insurance online.
KATU learned this week that Lawson has been added to the list of people to be interviewed by First Data, the firm contracted by the state to assess what went wrong with the website. She was not on the initial list of interview subjects, but is among the dozens who have been added since.
KATU’s attempts to contact Lawson and King on Wednesday and Thursday went unreturned.
Hoffman responded to Lawson, denying that OHA had provided Lawson’s personal information to the media and telling Lawson “we disagree with your characterization of the facts” discussed in the email. On Thursday, OHA refused to comment on the emails on the ground personnel matters are classified.
“I am paying for this and other misinformation with my career,” Lawson wrote. “My career as a CIO is over, my reputation is gone. I do not think it is too much to ask to please allow me to move on with privacy and grace.
“Please stop feeding personally damaging misinformation to the media. All I want to do is move on and try to rebuild a life for myself. It does not seem to me that this is too much to ask.”