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GoLocalPDX Files Complaint with AG Over Kitzhaber’s Failure to Disclose Information on Payments

Thursday, October 30, 2014


GoLocalPDX.com filed a formal complaint Wednesday with the office of the Attorney General of Oregon against the Governors’ office for failing to comply with open records laws.

“For more than two weeks the Governor’s press office and legal counsel have been running the clock on requests for information about whether or not the Governor has been receiving income from the consult contracts of Cylvia Hayes, as well as a number of other issues,” said Josh Fenton, Co-Founder and CEO of GoLocalPDX.

The GoLocalPDX complaint asserts the Governor’s office has intentionally delayed responses. Secondly, the complaint says that the GoLocalPDX requests could all be easily complied with simply by asking the Governor a few questions. Thirdly, it asserts that the staff is politically motivated to delay responding in order to assure that citizens of Oregon do not receive the information until after the election.

“This is perverse. Regardless of your politics, this manipulation is an affront to Oregon’s public information laws and to government transparency,” Fenton said. “It’s sad that the Governor and his staff are so dismissive of the public’s right to know.”

Susan Boe of the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government said battles between governors and the press are happening all across the country.

“When a Governor is running for re-election or has aspiration towards higher office there is a tendency towards secrecy,” said Boe. “It seems like everyone is having problems with governors right now.”

Lobbyist or Consultant – family income or illegal payments

In Oregon, the Governor’s staff has maintained that obtaining financial records and accessing other data requested by GoLocalPDX required extensive review by the Governor’s General Counsel Liani Reeves and that the process would take a substantial amount of time.

However, on Oct 25, GoLocalPDX published the Governor’s Statement of Economic Interest after acquiring it from the Oregon Ethics Commission, a process that took less than half and hour.

In it the Governor himself states that his household received money from Hayes’ contracts with Energy Foundation and Resource Media. He did not list Cylvia Hayes in a section that required him to disclose  “any compensated lobbyist who was associated with a business with which you or a member or your household was associated during 2013.”

The Governor has maintained that Hayes’ activities do not constitute a conflict of interest.  But he has requested that the Oregon Ethics Commission review her contracts and her role as a “public official” all the same. 

When asked directly, Kitzhaber’s campaign staff refused to answer if Hayes’ activities constituted lobbying.  

There has been no response to GoLocalPDX’s request for an interview with the Governor and his general counsel Liani Reeves.

GoLocalPDX is not the only media organization meeting resistance from Mahonia Hall on requests for information. The Oregonian published on article on Wednesday detailing the fees and charges Reeves and the Governor’s staff have leveled at the newspaper's information requests.

Republicans Seize on Issue

Kitzhaber’s opponent in the Governor’s race, Dennis Richardson, has seized on the issue.  In a Wednesday statement the campaign said that  “Public records requests are going unanswered, the state government’s press staff is referring legal questions to the campaign, and the campaign isn’t saying much of anything.  The headlines scream corruption.  And the silence from Governor Kitzhaber on these continued revelations speaks volumes.”

Richardson released 22 of his own questions for the Governor, including:

  • Why is your government refusing to respond to public records requests in a timely manner?
  • Why didn’t you make an inquiry with the Oregon Ethics Commission before Hayes' contracts with companies seeking special access to the Governor’s office were signed?
  • Is First Lady and Senior Advisor Cylvia Hayes a lobbyist and why isn’t she currently registered?

“It’s very clear that [the Governor is] playing political games and using state resources to do it,” Meredith Glacken, Richardson's campaign spokeswoman, told GoLocalPDX. “The press is the vehicle that speaks to the people who elected him. He has a responsibility and obligation to communicate to the people of Oregon. He has a lot to answer for, but he hasn’t given an interview in two weeks. Where is he and what is he hiding?" 

Around the Country Press Stonewalled by Governors

The National Freedom of Information Coalition 2014 summit in Miami Florida had a panel discussion dedicated solely to cases in which governors blacked requests for information by the press.

Boe was on the panel, and cited recent cases between the press and governors over public records request, including a battle between the Miami Herald and Florida Gov. Rick Scott and the Washington Post and Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell.

In her own state of New Mexico, the press have been fighting with Gov. Susana Martinez for over a year as they try procure records that might determine if she used public security to guard her while she traveled on the campaign trail.

Martinez is running for reelection next month and the failure to fulfill public records requests has prompted no less than four lawsuits, two filed by the Associated Press and two filed by The Willamette Week’s sister paper, the Santa Fe Reporter.

Gov. Martinez’s private attorney has maintained that the state’s open records laws are unconstitutional when applied to governor’s office.

“I’ve never heard anything like that before,” Boe said. “It’s clearly in the constitution.”

Language of GoLocalPDX complaint

The complaint filed with the Attorney General’s Office by GoLocalPDX if granted would compel the Governor’s staff to respond to the weeks-old requests.

In the complaint GoLocalPDX says:  “We firmly believe the Governor’s office is manipulating the spirit and tenants of the statute.”

As GoLocalPDX previously reported:

Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber didn't list his fiancée Cylvia Hayes in a 2013 ethics document that required him to name lobbyists he had a relationship with.

In a Statement of Economic Interests document obtained by GoLocalPDX and filed with the Oregon Ethics Commission, Kitzhaber stated that his household received income from two companies, Energy Foundation and Resource Media, that had contracted with Hayes' consulting firm E3 Strategies.

But under a section that required him 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 simply put “N/A” or not applicable.

Media reports and partisan critics have railed against Hayes in recent weeks asserting that she is a lobbyist living off taxpayer funds and enjoying an unethical advantage in her role as a public official as Oregon’s “First Lady.”

In the Statement of Economic Interests, signed by Kitzhaber in April of this year, the Governor states that he had gained financially from two of three of Hayes' private consultant contracts that have been called into question.

The disclosure of the document by GoLocalPDX is another potentially serious issue now facing Kitzhaber.


Related Slideshow: Timeline of Cylvia Hayes’ Life and Misdeeds

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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


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


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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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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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


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


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


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

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Kitzhaber Reelection


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


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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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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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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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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