Kitzhaber welcomes probe


Gov.-elect John Kitzhaber says he isn’t concerned about taking on a review of allegations that the Oregon Department of Energy improperly gave business to Kitzhaber’s longtime girlfriend Cylvia Hayes.

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Gov.-elect John Kitzhaber says he isn’t concerned about taking on a review of allegations that the Oregon Department of Energy improperly gave business to Kitzhaber’s longtime girlfriend Cylvia Hayes.

Although Attorney General John Kroger concluded last month that there wasn’t evidence of criminal conduct by anyone in the Energy Department, outgoing Gov. Ted Kulongoski still wanted a personnel review.

However, there isn’t enough time left in Kulongoski’s term to get anything started, forcing the issue to be passed on to Kitzhaber.

While Kitzhaber downplayed the significance of the matter, the issue has been a hot potato for state officials since August, when Kroger’s office began a criminal probe of the handling of a state contract sought by Hayes’ firm. The contract went to a Seattle company, but the Energy Department successfully pushed to have some of the work go to Hayes, a sustainability consultant from Bend who has been in a relationship with Kitzhaber for several years.

“I believe that the public interest would be served best by an independent review that will not be disrupted by the transition to a new administration,” Kulongoski said in [a letter to Kroger]. The attorney general’s office might create a “perceived conflict of interest” if it handled the review, the governor said.

Kroger fired back with his own letter Wednesday, saying that there was no conflict of interest and that his office would not authorize the special counsel. He said Kulongoski was free to appoint a “human resources specialist” or any other person acting in a nonlegal role to review the case.

Read more at OregonLive.com.

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