How Two Oregonian Reporters Found ‘Phony Documents’ in the Records of a Sprawling State Program

It started with a tip.

In the fall of 2014, when Oregon officials and former Gov. John Kitzhaber were cheerleading the completion of a multimillion dollar effort to bring solar power to state university campuses, reporter Jeffrey Manning of The Oregonian learned details of the project could also use a little sunlight.

During a coffeehouse meeting, a source in the solar industry urged him to do some digging into the project, which involved around $12 million in tax credits and had been pitched as a job-creator that would bolster the local economy. After he started poking around, Manning recalled in a recent interview, he found something interesting: The jobs in solar manufacturing had been done locally—but behind bars, with prison labor.

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