4 winners and losers in the Kitzhaber scandal


Examining the governor’s rapid fall from grace in a “bizarre” and “unprecedented” saga.

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Gov. John Kitzhaber’s rapid fall from grace leaves behind clear winners and losers.


As of 11 a.m. Friday —  “it appears to be a very fluid situation,” as Secretary of State spokesman Tony Green told us yesterday — Kitzhaber had yet to step down, despite mounting calls from members of his own party to call it quits.

Click through to read our list of winners and losers.

1. Willamette Week | winner

The alternative weekly hit the ground running with its story last year about Cylvia Hayes and hasn’t let up since. Reporter Nigel Jaquiss hit the jackpot again Thursday, when he published a story about the governor attempting to purge his emails from the state server.

(Kitzhaber appears to be channeling that old Scooby Doo joke: “and I would’ve gotten away with it if it weren’t for you meddling kids.”)

Praise for WW and Jaquiss broke out across Twitter following the email-destruction story — or as one KGW reporter called it, “the silver bullet.”


Willamette kept up the coverage all the while dancing around their own potential conflict of interest challenge: publisher Richard Meeker is married to the woman investigating Kitzhaber and Hayes, state attorney general Ellen Rosenblum.  

2. Kitzhaber | loser (clearly)

Kitzhaber was the first Oregon governor to be elected for a fourth term; he is now the first governor to be the subject of a criminal investigation.

One look at the tweets for the @GovKitz handle paints a grim picture for Kitzhaber’s legacy.

3. Kate Brown | winner

Barring unforeseen circumstances, she will soon be governor of Oregon. In a statement, Brown said she  “is ready, and [her] staff will be ready, should he resign.”

Brown also issued a remarkable statement capturing the surreal nature of the previous day’s events: At Kitzhaber’s request, Brown headed home early from a conference in DC, only to be told by Kitzhaber on her arrival that he does not intend to resign:


If/when Brown assumes office, she will be the second woman governor in the state’s history.

4. Democrats | losers

This was supposed to be their session: With wide majorities in both the House and Senate and an ally in the governor’s mansion, this was supposed to be the year that Democrats would pass a range of favored bills on green energy and worker benefits.

But only two weeks into the legislative session, the Kitzhaber scandal has distracted policymakers and called into question the viability of green energy legislation like the clean fuels bill, now forever linked to Cylvia Hayes.

From Thursday’s press conferences in the House and Senate:

House Speaker Tina Kotek: “The work of the state has to go on, and he’s not able to focus on that right now. It has become clear to [me and Senate President Peter Courtney] that the ongoing investigations surrounding the governor and Cylvia Hayes have resulted in the loss of the people’s trust. Our actions today and our actions going forward are focused on rebuilding the public’s trust in state government.”

(SOURCE: OregonLive.com)

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