A computer tampering allegation made by Columbia County Commissioner Joe Corsiglia in October tipped off a nearly five-month probe involving the Federal Bureau of Investigation that ultimately led to the seizure of Corsiglia's computer.
Columbia County Sheriff's Office deputies seized Corsiglia's computer in late February based on complaints Corsiglia made to Undersheriff Gerry Simmons that he believed someone had tampered with the machine.
The computer is now being held in the evidence room at the Columbia County Sheriff's Office, Simmons said.
'I seized it as evidence, and it's an ongoing case,' Simmons said.
The FBI declined to comment on the investigation, as is the agency's policy.
Corsiglia made the complaint after returning from a regional homeland security training exercise in October that was held in places throughout the Portland metropolitan area.
Corsiglia was not in his office at the Columbia County Courthouse during the three-day exercise, called TOP OFF IV. He said it was obvious when he returned that someone had meddled with his computer.
'It was obviously tampered with, and I'm not a computer expert so I wasn't able to assess exactly what had been done,' Corsiglia said. 'I would hope that an investigation would bring something forward.'
Simmons gave few details about the investigation, though he did confirm that the FBI has been involved with the case shortly after it was brought to his attention, and that the federal agency remains involved today.
Exactly why the FBI is involved is unclear, and Simmons said he could not comment on the open case.
'It's a pending case,' Simmons said.
This is the second case of an FBI investigation involving a local politician in the past two months. In January, the Oregonian and Willamette Week newspapers reported the FBI was looking into Sen. Betsy Johnson, though the nature of that investigation is largely unknown.
Simmons said he is aware of no connection between the FBI's involvement in the Corsiglia or Johnson cases.