Emails show Hayes insisted on policy role

Former First Lady Cylvia Hayes “behaved as if she were deputy governor,” the Oregonian reports.

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Former First Lady Cylvia Hayes “behaved as if she were deputy governor,” the Oregonian reports.

Emails show that she expected to be involved in several policy making sessions and that she rarely experienced push back from staffers. reports:

When Hayes wanted to attend a regular — and typically confidential — meeting of top aides, an exception was made to the rules. She used a supervisory tone with staff and wasn’t shy about delivering criticism.

“I am not doing separate FLO initiatives, but rather taking on specific roles for the administration,” she wrote to one of Kitzhaber’s spokesmen in early 2012 as he prepared her state website.

She utilized state staff to aid her firm’s business and professional image, including search engine optimization — which she called her “Google presence.”

The Oregonian has gone through 50,000 emails so far, and Laura Gunderson wrote a list of six “takeaways” from the messages so-far read:

  1. “FLO” consciously blurred the line between her private undertakings and state work.
  2. She spoke to former Gov. John Kitzhaber’s staff as if she was a supervisor.
  3. Kitzhaber offered little-to-no resistance to her grabbing power, and in some cases, he fostered her line-blurring.  
  4. Staffers took Hayes’ overtures as normal.
  5. The content of the emails make it hard for Hayes to contend she didn’t act as a public official.
  6. Hayes did not feel guilty about her alleged green-card marriage.

Read Gunderson’s report here.

The emails also indicate that Kitzhaber’s attorney was aware of problems related to a business group’s support of Hayes’ agenda.

Willamette Week’s Nigel Jaquiss has details on the ongoing federal investigation:

The investigation is focused on whether Hayes—assisted by Kitzhaber—broke the law when she used her position in the governor’s office to leverage more than $220,000 in private consulting contracts. But federal investigators have also zeroed in on whether Hayes or others broke the law when the first lady got a powerful business lobbying group to fund a spokeswoman to help publicize her work.

WW last fall first reported that the Oregon Business Council spent $35,000 to pay for a PR person to help Hayes win more media attention for her anti-poverty causes. The group financed Hayes’ spokeswoman as Kitzhaber was championing the OBC’s political agenda (“First Lady Inc.,” WW, Oct. 8, 2014). Now, emails newly obtained by WW show how far Kitzhaber’s staff attorney, Liani Reeves, went to make the arrangement look legal and avoid appearing as if the OBC deal was a political payoff to Hayes.

Read Jaquiss’ report here.

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