Should Mult.Co. Chair Jeff Cogen resign after his affair with a county employee?
PORTLAND -- Multnomah County Chair Jeff Cogen Tuesday evening admitted to an affair with a county employee.
Late Tuesday morning, Cogen sent an email to all Multnomah County employees, apologizing for his actions.
"I was involved in an inappropriate relationship with a county employee," he said in the email. "My personal actions have caused my family grief and tarnished the great work that you all do. I sincerely apologize for that."
KGW's news partner, The Oregonian, identified the woman as Sonia Manhas, a health-policy adviser in the county health department.
Manhas has been working for the county since 2000 and recently received a promotion, but Cogen told The Oregonian that it had nothing to do with his influence. He also said although Manhas is a county employee, their relationship did not violate county policies on workplace relationships because he is not her direct supervisor.
The affair was reportedly revealed after county officials received an anonymous email. The email said that county employees saw the two kissing in front of the Kenton Library and at a bar, among other places. It said both Cogen's and Manhas' fathers had just died and they were consoling each other.
Cogen said he has no plans to resign from his position but will be spending some time away from his job now that news of the affair has surfaced, according to this statement from spokesman David Austin:
"Multnomah County Chair Jeff Cogen acknowledges that he had an inappropriate affair with a county employee. The affair has ended. He takes responsibility for his actions and apologizes for them. He will be spending this time focusing on his family and healing the pain he has caused them before returning to work as soon as possible."
Cogen is married with two children. Manhas is also married with two children.
It was unclear was Manhas planned to do, now that news of the affair has surfaced. She has not made any comments to news agencies about the situation.
On Wednesday afternoon, the four other Multnomah County Commissioners released a statement regarding Cogen's admitted affair.
“As the four independently elected county commissioners, we are certainly disappointed by Chair Cogen’s conduct. We consider much of the situation to be a personal matter for him to deal with on his own. However, there are significant questions to be answered with respect to the county’s business and to ensure that the standards of Multnomah County are upheld. We expect a sufficient inquiry by the County Attorney to provide answers for the people of Multnomah County. We remain committed to maintaining the county's vital services to our citizens and upholding the professional standards that the residents of Multnomah County have come to expect and deserve,” said Commissioners Deborah Kafoury, Loretta Smith, Judy Shiprack, and Diane McKeel in the statement.