Oregon's Governor Resigns Amid Scandal

John Kitzhaber's fiancee is accused of shady financial dealings
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 13, 2015 2:32 PM CST
Oregon's Governor Resigns Amid Scandal
In this Jan. 12 photo, Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber kisses fiancee Cylvia Hayes after he is sworn in.   (Don Ryan)

Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber finally took the hint. He says he will resign amid allegations that his fiancee used her relationship with him to enrich herself—a stunning fall from grace for the state's longest-serving chief executive. The decision capped a wild week in which Kitzhaber seemed poised to step down, then changed his mind, but ultimately bowed to calls from legislative leaders that he quit. Secretary of State Kate Brown, a Democrat like Kitzhaber, was expected to assume the office and become the first openly bisexual governor in the country. Unlike most states, Oregon doesn't have a lieutenant governor, and the state Constitution puts the secretary of state next in line. Kitzhaber had just begun his fourth term.

A series of newspaper reports since October have chronicled fiancee Cylvia Hayes' work for organizations with an interest in Oregon public policy. At the same time she was paid by advocacy groups, she played an active role in Kitzhaber's administration, a potential conflict of interest. Though questions about Hayes have swirled for months, the pressure on Kitzhaber intensified in recent weeks after newspapers raised questions about whether Hayes reported all her income on tax returns. She has not publicly addressed the allegations. Earlier this week, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said she was launching a criminal investigation. (More Oregon stories.)

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