Bush investigation cost nearly $50,000

Former Prineville chief subject of separate DOJ investigation

By Scott Hammers / The Bulletin

Published Jul 23, 2014 at 12:01AM

The investigation of former Prineville Police Chief Eric Bush cost the city of Prineville nearly $50,000, according to records released Monday.

Bush, chief of the department since 2003 and a member of the force since 1990, was fired last week after nearly 10 months on paid administrative leave. While Bush was on leave, the city hired the Local Government Personnel Institute to investigate an unspecified personnel matter concerning him.

Documents released by the city Monday show it paid the institute $49,173.17 to conduct the investigation, plus $1,375 for the city’s annual membership fees. The Local Government Personnel Institute is a member-supported organization created by the League of Oregon Cities and the Association of Oregon Counties.

In addition, the city may have paid Bush more than $86,000 in wages and benefits while he was on leave. An earlier public records request granted by the city put the total at $60,755 for the nearly seven months between Sept. 3, 2013, and March 31.

The city did not immediately respond to a new records request submitted Tuesday seeking an updated tally of wages and benefits paid to Bush while he was on leave from his position.

City officials have declined to release the Local Government Personnel Institute report or discuss its findings.

However, on Tuesday, the Crook County Legal Department sided with The Bulletin and other media organizations, overruling the city’s denial of earlier requests for the report and compelling it to make the report public. City recorder Lisa Morgan said Monday that city attorney Carl Dutli was reviewing the letter he received from the district attorney’s office and that the 277-page report should be available shortly.

The letter from special deputy district attorney Jeff Wilson sent to Dutli and parties to the public records request stated that Bush is the subject of a separate investigation by the Oregon Department of Justice looking into allegations of official misconduct and possibly theft. Kristina Edmundson, spokeswoman with the DOJ, confirmed Bush is the subject of an investigation by her department but declined to provide additional details.

One day after his dismissal, Bush filed a lawsuit against the city of Prineville, the Local Government Personnel Institute and Capt. Michael Boyd, who has served as interim chief of the police department since Bush was put on leave. The suit seeks more than $2.5 million and alleges the investigation and subsequent dismissal of Bush was retaliation for his service with the Oregon Army National Guard.

A brigadier general with the National Guard, Bush had been on assignment in South Korea for nearly a month before he was put on leave on his first day back at the department.

None of the parties named in Bush’s lawsuit have filed a formal response to the allegations detailed in the suit.

— Reporter: 541-383-0387, shammers@bendbulletin.com