Cogen ignores affair questions at meeting

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — In what the Multnomah County director of communications said was a bold move and the first they’ve seen in the county, KOIN 6 News asked Commissioner Jeff Cogen questions about his affair with Sonia Manhas during the public testimony phase of their regularly scheduled meeting Thursday morning.

Manhas resigned from her job at the Health Department last week.

Cogen dodged numerous KOIN 6 News interview requests over the last few weeks. KOIN 6 News signed up to ask the commissioners questions during the allotted time.

“Since Chair Cogen did not answer questions following last week’s vote on his future, there are still many unanswered questions. I believe the public has a right to ask these questions,” reporter Carla Castano said.

Cogen was clearly surprised and sat silently with a smirk on his face. He did not answer any questions posed by KOIN 6 News.

  • “There is concern in the county Sonia Manhas took the fall for this affair and you’re still here. Is that a fair assessment?”
  • “Last week the commissioners sitting beside you voted to essentially get you out of that chair. Why did you choose not to leave?”
  • “When you stayed in the hotel in Atlanta with Manhas both times it was on Multnomah County taxpayers dime. Is that true?”
  • “Did you use your county-issued phone to maintain this affair?”

“I am willing to discuss county business,” he said at one point.

  • “We could have done this the easy way or the hard way. You said you would talk to us about county business and I think taxpayers believe when you have an affair on taxpayers dime it becomes taxpayers business. You declined our interview requests multiple times. Thank you.”

“Thank you,” Cogen said.

The Department of Justice released a letter freezing requests for public documents into his affair with Manhas on the grounds it may compromise their investigation.

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