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Jeff Cogen Resists Pressure To Resign

Pete Springer/OPB

It wasn’t on the Multnomah County commissioners’ meeting official agenda, but everyone in the county hall knew the crux of today’s meeting was a vote for besieged county chair Jeff Cogen’s resignation.

In a lengthy statement before the vote, Commissioner Loretta Smith described the vote as “probably the most difficult political decision I have made in my career.”

In his own statement, Cogen said “I made mistakes, big ones,” then went on to describe his affair as causing tremendous pain for his family, Sonia Manhas’s family, and the county. But in light of the upcoming criminal investigation by Oregon attorney general, Cogen said, “I deserve a chance for the facts to come out, and the community does too.” 

He then said, “I don’t understand the rush to judgement.”

When the vote came down, only Cogen voted against the resolution. The resolution, which required unanimity to pass, would not have forced Cogen to resign.

The vote for Cogen’s resignation comes a day after Sonia Manhas resigned from her job, saying she was pressured out by county officials. The pressure on Cogen to step down ramped up quickly following her resignation as did more revelations about county rules the two may have broken pursuing the affair.

Yesterday, Manhas joined the commissioners in saying Cogen should resign. “Jeff should at least be held to the same standard as I have been and in fact a higher one given that he was elected by and for the people,” she wrote the Oregonian in a text message. “We both need to step aside and let Multnomah County move forward without any further distractions.”

Do you think the distraction of the affair to county business is reason enough for Cogen to resign? Is it the affair itself or the potential rules violations that should most matter?

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OPB | Broadcast: July 25, 2013