The Oregon State Bar is investigating whether Oregon’s former U.S. Attorney, Amanda Marshall, violated ethics rules during an inappropriate relationship with a subordinate.
Last month, the bar sent a series of questions to Marshall referencing a report by the Department of Justice’s Office of Inspector General.
Documents obtained by OPB show Marshall’s attorney, Allison Rhodes, responded in writing on March 17, denying Marshall intended to impede a federal investigation into her conduct.
The bar has yet to determine if a formal ethics charge is warranted. Charges could range from public reprimand to a temporary or permanent suspension of Marshall’s law license.
Marshall, who was appointed by President Obama, resigned in May 2015 amid rumors she had an inappropriate relationship with a subordinate. The DOJ Office of Inspector General found Marshall had engaged in an “intimate personal relationship with a subordinate, for more than one year” and had “violated laws and regulations against sexual harassment.”
The Oregon State Bar began its investigation in June 2016.
The DOJ’s investigation into Marshall found she attempted to influence or impede its efforts, according to the report obtained by OPB through the Freedom of Information Act.
On March 5, 2015, Marshall wrote a Facebook message to an individual whose name is redacted the OIG’s report. In the state bar’s list of questions to Marshall, the person is identified as “Mr. Kerin,” presumably Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott Kerin.
“Talked to the guy from OIG. Seems far more interested in investigating you than me,” Marshall wrote in the message. “Don’t talk to him. Get a lawyer. I denied everything.”
Among other things, the bar asked whether Marshall’s intent was to get in the way of the OIG’s investigation when she told Kerin to not talk to federal officials.
“These comments are not a reflection of Ms. Marshall attempting to impede the investigation regarding her own conduct,” Rhodes wrote to the bar in the March 17 letter.
“The Facebook text was a result of genuine concern that she had related to Mr. Kerin, likely clouded by the acute mental health crisis that she was in at the time.”
In the March 2015 Facebook message, Marshall wrote to Kerin that she told the Department of Justice OIG she was “angry, sick, scared, had a neurologist [sic] and psychological disorder, etc.”
Rhodes wrote to the bar that Marshall was concerned Kerin would be “blind-sided” by questions from OIG and thought he should speak with an attorney.
“She never intended to stop him from cooperating in the investigation of her conduct, as that was an issue that was not, and would never become, in dispute,” Rhodes wrote.
In an email to OPB Monday, Rhodes said this incident is more than two years old and since then, Marshall has admitted what happened, resigned, apologized publicly, sought treatment and fully cooperated with investigations by the Department of Justice, the agency’s Office of Inspector General and the Oregon State Bar.
“She is hopeful that the Bar, like the DOJ and OIG, will conclude that Ms. Marshall’s conduct does not warrant any further sanction for conduct which, if it happened in a privately owned law firm or perhaps involving a male superior and a female subordinate, would likely have gone not only unsanctioned, but largely unnoticed,” Rhodes wrote. “That is not to say she isn’t sorry or accountable.”
Kateri Walsh, a spokeswoman for the bar, wrote in an email that its investigation will continue for several weeks or months “until we feel we have enough information to analyze any possible evidence.”
Walsh said the complaint will either be dismissed or brought before a professional responsibility board, which could direct the bar to bring formal ethics charges.