The Case Against New York City Attorney, Lawrence Kogan
Update: KID’s former New York-based attorney who cost the district $128,000 for legal services provided from May 1, 2016 through July 14, 2016 has been cleared for misconduct by the Oregon State Bar Association.
Since Larry Kogan of New York City has been retained to represent KID in the negotiations with the Bureau, he has visited Klamath Falls and KID’s office multiple times, providing legal advice and taking actions far beyond the scope of the Bureau negotiations. Outside of the board majority faction, no one really knows how Mr. Kogan landed at KID. When asked at a public meeting about how Mr. Kogan was chosen, Chairman Cheyne said he located Kogan using a “Google” search. The mystery behind Mr. Kogan might be because he’s not licensed to practice law in Oregon, or perhaps because he operates out of New York City.
Kogan has a track record in Montana for bringing dissension to local communities, breaking up relationships, and draining resources of local water organizations. In Montana, using tactics familiar to KID patrons, he is attempting to break up a water rights settlement between irrigators and tribes. While in Montana, Mr. Kogan came under heavy fire for his aggressive and questionable tactics. The only Montanan so far who has publicly stepped up in his defense has been involved with some questionable activities herself, including this Helena, MT newspaper account of her participation in a controversial conference in Kalispell last year.
KID recently received a bill for $59,000 from Mr. Kogan – for just two months work. His billing associated with his latest Herald and News guest column – which he used to personally attack a well-respected KID patron – will presumably be included in his May-June invoice. KID patrons responsible for paying this bill await its arrival with dread.
In the meantime, Kogan has broadened his representation of KID from negotiating the terms of the C Flume repayment contract with Reclamation, to representing KID at the KHSA negotiations, to providing legal advice to Board members during Board meetings, to attempting to become the spokesman for KID with respect to all aspects of its relationship with Reclamation.
After some patrons and other KID board members began questioning Kogan’s activities, he responded by sending an email to the Board members, which threatened them should they discuss any issue of KID business with anyone but Mr. Kogan. In his email, Kogan refers to a KID “Privacy and Confidentiality of Communications Policy” that does not even exist and has never been discussed or adopted by the Board of Directors. He closed his message by threatening to sue, to the most extent of the law, any “violator” of this unwritten, unapproved policy.
Mr. Kogan likes to work behind closed doors, and the press reports he has acknowledged giving advice concerning the Public Meeting Law to individual board members and may have assisted and counseled them to violate the requirements of the law.
Kogan’s actions are seen by some as unethical. He has made representations with respect to actions of KID that were not taken. He has threatened to represent KID in suing members of the KID Board and management. He has also initiated representation of KID in other matters – such as the important “takings case” the district has been involved in since 2001.
Larry Kogan is not licensed to practice law in Oregon or California, although he has repeatedly presented himself to others as “KID’s counsel”. He is currently being investigated by the Oregon State Bar for many of the allegations listed above. You can see the bar complaint here: 2016.05.09 Oregon State Bar Complaint.Kogan.
Finally, at a July 14th meeting, a motion was made to dismiss Lawrence Kogan and to end his services. In a 2-1 vote (Grant Knoll declined to vote and Chairman Cheyne claimed to only vote to break ties), the Board terminated Kogan’s employment with the irrigation district. In a recent news article about him responding to the Oregon Bar Complaint about his and his being terminated from KID’s employment, Mr. Kogan was quoted:
“You never know what events may transpire.
I would welcome coming back in and taking care of business.”
Larry Kogan, the July 21, 2016 Herald and News