The leader of Oregon's environmental agency, Richard Whitman, recently resigned from his position early for what was said to be "personal reasons." However, it has now been revealed that he was actually forced out due to an inappropriate relationship with a subordinate.
According to sources within the agency, Whitman had disclosed the relationship prior to his resignation. The agency conducted an investigation and determined that the relationship was in violation of its policies on workplace conduct.
Whitman had served as director of the Department of Environmental Quality since 2017 and had been lauded for his work on climate change initiatives and pushing for stricter regulations on polluters. His sudden departure came as a surprise to many in the state government and environmental community.
In a statement released by Governor Kate Brown's office, she expressed disappointment over Whitman's behavior but emphasized her commitment to maintaining high ethical standards within her administration. "I want every employee at all levels in state government to know that I take seriously our responsibility to create safe and inclusive work environments," she said.
Whitman himself also released a statement apologizing for his actions. "I made mistakes in my personal life that have impacted my ability to serve effectively as director," he said. "I deeply regret any harm I may have caused."
The Department of Environmental Quality will now begin the search for a new director while continuing its efforts towards protecting Oregon's environment and public health.