Ex-legislative HR director's quiet exit included pay to research, handle projects
The Oregon Legislature's former human resources director was paid nearly $100,000 to work from home for the first eight months of 2019 after she agreed to a quiet exit last fall amid intense public scrutiny about workplace harassment in the Capitol.
Legislative officials would provide only limited information about what Lore Christopher accomplished in those months. According to state records, she spent hours responding to emails, making phone calls, compiling a salary survey and doing "media research." According to her schedules, she performed such tasks after the Legislature replaced her in March.
What did Oregon taxpayers get for the $96,000 paid to Christopher? Legislative Administrator Daron Hill responded that she was "compensated for work performed."
Christopher declined to comment when reached by phone Monday, Sept. 30.
Hill provided Christopher's weekly work schedules to the Oregon Capital Bureau through a public records request. She worked about 1,400 hours on various projects for the state, according to records provided by Legislative Administration.
But there was no record disclosed by the Legislature about what Christopher did in her first three months. Her schedules begin April 5.
For the five months she documented, her schedule included 109 hours on phone calls and 98 reviewing and responding to emails. The schedule typically showed up to two hours a day dealing with email.
Christopher also reported working on research for the Oregon Department of Justice, the nature of which was redacted. She also attended legislative hearings and dealt with information technology problems.
A spokeswoman for the justice department said that agency didn't compensate Christopher for any work and that any questions should be directed to the Legislature.
Christopher also spent some time organizing and doing an inventory of documents, the nature of which were also redacted. Several other entries state "Research for" or "Work on" but the rest has been redacted.
Hill said that Christopher satisfied her contract requirements to complete a salary survey of legislative positions, a hiring analysis, and several other tasks.
Christopher inked the retirement deal after a period of widespread criticism of the workplace culture at the Capitol.
In early 2018, Jeff Kruse, a Republican state senator from Roseburg, resigned after he was investigated for inappropriately touching colleagues and interns at the statehouse. In March, the Legislature agreed to pay about $1.1 million to settle with nine people who had experienced harassment working at the Capitol.
As human resources director, Christopher was a key contact for people reporting harassment or other workplace problems at the Oregon Legislature. She was identified in a state investigation of harassment at the Capitol as one of the officials who failed to react fully to complaints.
Christopher, a former mayor of Keizer, had worked since 1997 as director of Employee Services — the Legislature's human resources office. She was the interim director until March, when Jessica Knieling took over the post. Knieling is paid about $13,600 a month.
"The work assigned to Ms. Christopher was part of her separation agreement signed in September and was anticipated to be in addition to the work of the Employee Services director," Hill wrote in an email to the Oregon Capital Bureau this week.
Reporter Claire Withycombe: email@example.com or 971-304-4148.