Kitzhaber scandal: Rumors swirl that SOS readying to be governor

Governor scandal roundup: Kitzhaber first Oregon governor to be investigated by the attorney general.

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Click here for the most up-to-date information on Gov. Kitzhaber’s possible resignation. 

 Gov. John Kitzhaber’s attorneys tried to shield first lady Cylvia Hayes from a states ethics inquiry, reports

The response to a December ethics complaint was written by Kitzhaber’s and Hayes’ attorneys, before the couple split their legal team.


“The title ‘First Lady’ does not refer to an official office within Oregon state government or an officer of Oregon state government,” they wrote. “Ms. Hayes is not a public official.”

Not only did the governor keep that to himself, his attorneys’ arguments fly in the face of the image he and Hayes created and maintained. Hayes incorporated the title of first lady into her state role as well as her private consulting work. She sought state reimbursement for more than $3,600 she spent on travel and meals while conducting first lady business.She once used a desk in the governor’s office suite, and had a state-paid assistant.

The Statesman Journal wrote that the Kitzhaber investigation marks the first time the top lawyer in the state launched a criminal case against the governor:

Attorney General spokeswoman Kristina Edmunson confirmed Tuesday that the attorney general is operating a full criminal investigation.

Records show that investigations of public officials are relatively common, and 70 percent of the time they result in no charges being filed. However, they can sometimes result in plea bargains and jury trials. What’s more, they frequently force resignations, whether or not the attorney general proves wrongdoing.

What that means, the Portland Tribune reports, is that ethics investigations will be tabled.

Kristina Edmunson, a spokeswoman for Rosenblum, said the investigation opened by the attorney general Friday is criminal in nature. That means details of the overlap between Hayes’ paid contracts and her unpaid work as a state energy and economic development adviser could remain under wraps for a longer period.

The ethics commission was expected to decide at a March 13 meeting whether to proceed with a full-blown investigation of Kitzhaber and Hayes. At that point, ethics investigators’ reports and other records would become public, regardless of whether commissioners decided to pursue the investigation.

To wrap up another morning of Kitzhaber-scandal news, the Willamette Week wrote that Oregon secretary of state Kate Brown — Democrat from Portland — is “quietly seeking advice on what she should do” about potentially being the next governor if Kitzhaber resigns:

Brown, an equestrienne (she stables her Lipizzan, Tazo, in Ridgefield, Wash.) and former competitive diver, knows a thing or two about maintaining her balance in challenging situations. She climbed nearly to the pinnacle of Oregon Democratic politics through a combination of hard work, fundraising prowess and an ability to promote her party’s interests and her own at the same time.

“She’s got a great feel for people and a great sense of what Oregon needs as a leader,” says former Gov. Barbara Roberts. “She’s prepared and ready to step into the governorship on the first day.”