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Governor Kitzhaber Refuses to Answer About Personal Gain From Lobbying Fees

Thursday, October 23, 2014

 

Despite repeated assurances from his press staff, Governor John Kitzhaber’s administration has failed to respond to a series of questions about fees paid to his fiancé Cylvia Hayes and possible transfer of payments to the governor.

Since news broke that Hayes obtained paid lobbying contracts while she worked in the governor’s office and lived in the Governor’s mansion, Kitzhaber has made very few public statements and repeatedly refused to answer questions from GoLocalPDX regarding the payments to Hayes and the financial relationship Kitzhaber and Hayes share.

Lack of Transparency

Critics argue that the governor should have disclosed his financial relationship with Hayes long ago.

Richard Painter, law professor at the University of Minnesota and former Chief Ethics adviser to President George W. Bush, said spouses often attract business and attention because of their roles.

“But at a certain point if she’s (Hayes) trying to imply that people will be getting something form the governor, then you’re crossing the line,” he said. “I think (Kitzhaber) has to be transparent about it.”

Kitzhaber and Hayes are in an awkward position. Hayes lives at the governor’s Mansion at Mahonia Hall part time, and likely has some expenses paid for by the state. 

That’s fine if she is deemed to be a public official,  but then the state ethics commission might take issue with her taking money as a lobbyist.

If Hayes is not a public official then she would not be bound by ethics rules, but she may then have to reimburse the taxpayer for certain expenses.

Painter said he thinks Hayes should be required to disclose her economic interests, like other public officials. The state requires that elected officials file statements of economic interest, but not their spouses.

Painter said the governor should voluntarily provide Hayes’ financial information.

“You shouldn’t wait for the Legislature to get around to amending the statute,” he said. “That’s not right. They should include disclosure. He should be disclosing for her the same things that he would for a spouse.”

Painter said this issue is not uncommon. Critics blasted former President Bill Clinton when he was the governor of Arkansas, saying his wife Hilary Clinton’s work as an attorney benefited from her position.

GoLocalPDX's requests to the governor’s for information on Hayes expenses for housing, travel and other financial information, made a week ago, have been met with delays.

The governor’s staff stated that General Council Liani Reeves had to review the request and that she was out of the office Wednesday.

“But we are trying to get you the information,” said the governor’s spokeswomen Melissa Navas. “We are getting a lot of requests for information, more and more every day.”

Running down the clock

Whether that’s true remains to be seen. But with less than two weeks until the polls close, critics say there’s no incentive for the governor to move quickly on potentially embarrassing requests or to make public statements.

Libertarian Party Chairman Wes Wagner has no love for either of the two major parties.

“I would still believe this is the correct play,” Wagner said. “The Republicans have gone negative at this late hour because they do not have a good candidate to sell. I suspect it will fall flat so long as Kitzhaber ignores it and does not allow it to become a larger stage. It forces the Oregon Republican Party to spend all their time promoting this scandal rather than promoting their guy.”

But silence can be dangerous and often allows people to imagine things are worse than they actually are, said D. Sunshine Hillygus, professor of politics at Duke University.

“There can be more concern when there’s no transparency than when there is,” she said.

Meanwhile, headlines keep piling up. On Wednesday, the Oregonian reported a company that had hired Hayes in 2013, Resource Media Inc., coordinated a media campaign against the development of a new coal terminal at the Port of Morrow. Shortly after Hayes signed on with Resource Media, the state pulled the plug on the project.

Tom “Smithy” Smith of Public Citizens of Texas, government watchdog group, has been following the issues and said that Kitzhaber has been consistently for the environment and probably would have quashed the project without Hayes.

But Smith acknowledges the relationship between Hayes and Ktizhaber could be challenging, “It raises concerns when your sweetie is hired to lobby on issues before you.”

Questions Piling Up

All the while, the protracted scandal provides more ammunition for Kitzhaber’s opponents.

“We see a pattern here of ethical violations that are costly to the voter and taxpayer and the governor has not yet acknowledged or made himself accountable for any of these situations and voters are going to have a hard time trusting a governor who does not own up to problems,” said Bill Currier vice chairman of the Oregon Republican Party.

A KATU poll released Wednesday, showed Kitzhaber's lead slipping by as much as 18 points.

 

Related Slideshow: Timeline of Cylvia Hayes’ Life and Misdeeds

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Marriages

March 28, 1989

Hayes divorced Todd Hayes in the state of Washington 

Dec. 17, 1996

Hayes divorced Doug McCarthy

July 19, 1997

King County, Washington marriage records revealed Hayes married an 18-year-old Ethiopian immigrant, Abraham B. Abraham. There was no record of the couple living together and four years and three months later they filed for divorce, which was finalized in 2002. Hayes admitted to being paid $5,000 for the marriage, which she said she used to pay for school expenses and did not report in her taxes.

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Evergreen State College

1994-1997

Hayes transferred to Evergreen from Bellevue Community College to earn a bachelor's degree in environmental studies in 1994. There she played on the woman's soccer team and was awarded academic and athletic scholarships.  She stayed on at Evergreen to earn a master's degree in Environmental Studies in 1997. 

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Alleged pot farm property

1997-1998

Hayes and her then boyfriend bought property in Okanogan, Washington near the Canadian border. Hayes admitted the property was intended for marijuana growth, although she said the operation “never materialized” and that she was never financially involved. However, the person who took over the property said that Hayes and her boyfriend stopped making payments and that there was evidence of marijuana being grown there. She gave up her interest in the property in April 1998. 

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Bend

1998

Hayes moved from Washington to Bend, Oregon. Hayes has said she lived in a tent on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land over the summer while she got established in the area and finished her thesis. 

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3EStrategies

1998

Hayes founded 3EStraegies in Bend, a clean economy consulting firm. The business was built from Earth Connections, a nonprofit organization Hayes created two years earlier. In 2009 she converted 3EStraegies into a for-profit company. 

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Run for office

2002

Hayes ran for the Oregon State Legislature as the House Democratic nominee. She lost to Rep. Ben Westlund from Bend. 

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Kitzhaber Divorce

2003

Governor John Kitzhaber divorced his second wife of eight years, Sharon Kitzhaber, after he left the governor’s office in 2003. The two had become engaged during Kitzhaber’s first governor campaign.

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Kitzhaber and Hayes

2009

The first media report that Kitzhaber had a new relationship with Hayes appeared in the Bend Bulletin.

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Kitzhaber Reelection

2010

Kitzhaber won a third non-consecutive term and took office as governor. He had held the title previously for two terms from 1995 to 2003. He told the press that Hayes would take on the responsibilities and roles of a first lady.

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Investigation by DOJ

August 2010

Hayes was the center of a criminal investigation by the Oregon Department of Justice surrounding a consulting contract she received from the Oregon Department of Energy. Although her firm was ranked last, it was still granted work. Hayes was never accused of any wrongdoing, but the investigation showed state officials had guided a $60,000 contract to her firm.

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Move into Mahonia Hall

December 2010

After Kitzhaber was reelected in 2010, he announced that while he'd be spending most of his time in his Portland home, when in Salem his girlfriend Cylvia Hayes would stay with him in the Governor's mansion, Mahonia Hall. 

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Work for the Governor

2011-present

Hayes was placed on a seven-member team by Kitzhaber to write a 10-year energy plan. Hayes also gave speeches as the first lady and policy adviser in the area of energy issues.

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3E Contracts with Demos

March 2013

Hayes signed a $20,611 consulting contract with Resource Media, a firm that had contacted Kitzhaber’s office the year before to promote a Pacific Coast climate and energy initiative. 

May 2013

Hayes signed a $40,000 contract with the nonprofit Energy Foundation, who she had worked with as part of her duties as a Kitzhaber adviser. Hayes had spoken at an Energy Foundation event in 2012 and emailed them in the start of 2013, mentioning funding for the company. 

June 2013

Hayes signed a $25,000 contract with Demos. Hayes spoke and moderated a Demos panel, but was introduced as Oregon’s first lady, rather than a paid consultant.

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Engagement

Aug 2014

Kitzhaber and Hayes announced their engagement. However, no wedding date was announced.

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Expose on Hayes

Oct. 8 2014

The Willamette Week published an expose on Hayes alleging that her role as a private consultant and her position as Oregon's "first lady" presented a conflict of interest and an ethics violation. 

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Confession

Oct. 9, 2014

In a press conference, Hayes admitted to an illegal green card marriage in 1997. She said that she told Governor Kitzhaber about the illegal marriage only a day before the news went public. 

Oct. 13, 2014

Hayes admitted to KOIN 6 NEWS that she had lived on a property in Okanogan, WA used for growing and selling marijuana.

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Investigation called for

Oct. 14, 2014

The Oregon GOP called for an investigation into both Cylvia Hayes and the governor over allegations of self-dealing outlined in the Willamette Week.

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The bank loan

Oct. 15, 2014

The Willamette Week wrote that the Governor’s office had helped extend a government loan for a former client of Hayes’ consulting business in Bend, Oregon. The owner of a golf course was given an extension on his loan from the Oregon Department of Energy after the Department was persuaded by Kitzhaber's staff. The owner wrote a thank-you note to Hayes, Kitzhaber’s chief of staff and his business advisor for their help with the situation. 

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Ethics Commission

Oct. 15, 2014

The GOP filed a complaint with the Oregon Government Ethics Commission against Kitzhaber, Hayes, and the governor's unpaid advisor Patricia McCaig. It claimed there was a “conflict of interest transactions, employment relationships, benefits from public contracts, usage of public buildings and staff for personal financial gain and business."

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Rep. Berger complaint

Oct. 16, 2014
State Representative Vicki Berger (R-Salem) filed a complaint against Hayes with the Oregon Government Ethics Commission. Berger said in her statement, “I am asking for a full investigation of the possible misuse of state resources by Ms. Hayes.” 

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Former boyfriend speaks

Oct. 21, 2014

Karl Topinka, Hayes' former boyfriend she owned the pot farm in Washington with, told the Daily Mail that Hayes couldn't be trusted. He also said the pot farm was all her idea and she had done the planning. Topinka said Hayes failed to tell him of her illegal marriage that had taken place shortly before. 

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Ethics document

Oct. 25, 2014

Governor Kitzhaber did not list Hayes in an ethics document consisting of lobbyists he had a relationship with, GoLocalPDX reported. In a section where he was supposed to disclose “any compensated lobbyist who was associated with a business with which you or a member or your household was associated during 2013,” Kitzhaber wrote “N/A” or not applicable.
 

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Open records complaint

Oct. 29, 2014

GoLocalPDX.com filed a complaint with the Attorney General of Oregon against the Governor’s office for failure to comply with the open records law. A request for information to determine if the Governor had received income from Hayes’ consulting contracts was ignored for over two weeks, prompting the official complaint. 

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Opponents demand records

Oct. 30, 2014

Republican governor candidate Dennis Richardson was joined by Democrat Ifeanyichukwu Diru, Kitzhaber’s primary opponent, in a press conference demanding the Governor release records relating to the scandal. 

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Kitzhaber leads polls

Oct. 31, 2014

Governor Kitzhaber led by 10 points over opponent Richardson in a recent poll released by KATU a few days before the 2014 election.

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Hayes Speaks Out

Nov. 6, 2014

Cylvia Hayes made her first public statement since her confession that she had been part of an illegal sham marriage. The statement which she made via her Facebook page reads: 

"I just want to thank all of you who have sent such support and encouragement over these past very challenging weeks. In the midst of the storm the positive incoming from friends, family and colleagues has been enormously helpful. Thank you for taking time to reach out."

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Federal Investigation

Cylvia Hayes could face federal fraud charges for her dual role as a private consultant and public official in the Governor’s office, a series of legal experts told GoLocalPDX. 

The findings of an Oregon Ethics Commission investigation will determine whether Hayes violated state ethics laws when she accepted contracts for her private consulting firm while working in the governor’s office under the title of “Oregon’s First Lady.”

On Jan. 9, Willamette Week reported Hayes was under federal investigation, raising the specter of federal charges. 

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Press Conference

Jan. 30, 2014

Governor John Kitzhaber held a press conference and responded to questions surrounding investigations, ethics violations and Cylvia Hayes. When asked if he would resign, he said “I was elected by the people of this state to do a job, and I intend to do it.”

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Plagiarism

Feb. 11, 2014

A GoLocalPDX investigation into the writings of Cylvia Hayes found portions of her Green Jobs Growth Plan: 2011-2019 report were plagiarized from a pre-existing state report.

 
 

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