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Oracle sues Brown for not providing Kitzhaber's emails

PORTLAND — Oracle Corp. is suing Oregon Gov. Kate Brown for allegedly violating the state's public records law by failing to turn over the contents of email accounts used by former Gov. John Kitzhaber.

The complaint was filed Thursday in Marion County Circuit Court. It says Brown failed to provide in a timely manner documents related to Oracle's April 6 public records requests. Oracle further narrowed down its request in June.

Instead, Oracle says Brown allowed Kitzhaber and his lawyer to decide which emails are subject to public disclosure and passed on those chosen emails to Oracle. Brown did not retrieve or review the emails herself.

The controversy stems from a legal battle between Oracle and the state over the troubled Cover Oregon health insurance exchange. Oracle is seeking Kitzhaber's private emails that were relevant to state business and stored on state servers; the company says they're relevant to pending litigation over Cover Oregon.

Kitzhaber resigned from office last February, in the wake of influence-peddling accusations. The former governor contends his emails were accidentally archived and are illegally in the state's possession. He has threatened to sue the governor if the emails are reviewed or released.

In October, Brown's office passed on to Oracle approximately 1,000 pages provided to her by Kitzhaber. Nearly half of those pages were excerpts from two books, according to the suit.

"This production appears to be designed to allow Governor Brown to create the impression that she is complying with the (records law)," says the complaint, "when in fact she has neither reviewed nor produced even a single record..."

Oracle spokeswoman Deborah Hellinger said in a statement that approach doesn't match Brown's image as a transparent governor.

"Despite numerous commitments to greater transparency and public disclosure in government dealings, Kate Brown has not lived up to her promises," said Hellinger.

Brown spokeswoman Kristen Grainger says the matter is already in court, making the current legal move redundant.

"It appears Oracle is just wasting the public's money and time by filing yet another lawsuit," Grainger said.   

In this April 17, 2015, file photo, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown speaks during her State of the State address in Portland. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS.