Richard Whitman, the head of Oregon's Environmental Quality Commission, resigned early citing "personal reasons." However, it has since been revealed that he was actually forced out due to a relationship with a subordinate.
The Oregonian/OregonLive obtained records showing that Whitman had disclosed his relationship with an employee in January. The agency launched an investigation into the matter and ultimately determined that Whitman had violated its anti-nepotism policy.
Whitman announced his resignation earlier this month, but did not reveal the true reason behind his departure. In a statement at the time, he simply said that he was stepping down for personal reasons.
"I regret having to make this decision at this time," Whitman said in the statement. "It has been an honor serving as Chair of EQC."
The governor's office also released a statement at the time praising Whitman for his leadership and thanking him for his service.
"Richard brought significant expertise and experience to the role," Governor Kate Brown said in her statement. "I'm grateful for everything he accomplished during his tenure."
However, following reports of Whitman's forced resignation, both he and Governor Brown have remained silent on the matter.
Whitman served as chair of EQC since 2017 after being appointed by Governor Brown. He previously worked as senior advisor on energy and climate change issues under former Governor John Kitzhaber.
His departure comes amid ongoing efforts by environmental groups to push Oregon towards greater action on climate change. The state recently passed legislation aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions but faces criticism from some activists who say it doesn't go far enough.
With Whitman gone, it remains unclear who will take over leadership of EQC or how long it will take for a replacement to be named.