Back in October I asked the entirely hypothetical question of whether or not the shady activities Oregon’s First Lady (the fiance, not wife, of Governor John Kitzhaber) might endanger the Governor’s reelection chances. Of course, in a blue state like that, he was never in any real danger and won another term with a fairly comfortable six point margin. The media wasn’t much help, though. To find out much about the various adventures of Cylvia Hayes, the aforementioned fiance, you had to go to conservative blogs. We did some searching and did manage to find the mainstream media talking about it a bit, but it was mostly section B “local news” which was generally pinned on his girlfriend. (And how can you hold a guy responsible for hooking up with a crazy gal, am I right, fellas?)
Once the election was over, though, more stories came to light where Ms. Hayes was collecting some nice cash under undisclosed contracts from groups with a vested interest in matters where she was officially advising the state government. And just to complete the hat trick, two of the people arranging for her to get this lucrative work wound up with jobs in the Kitzhaber administration. And now (just now?) The Oregonian is calling for the Governor to resign.
“I’m not going to consider resigning,” said Gov. John Kitzhaber at a disastrous press conference held Friday following revelations about the apparently borderless world of public policy and private gain in which he and fiancée Cylvia Hayes exist. “I was elected by the people of this state to do a job, and I intend to do it.”
No doubt, the governor does intend to do the job Oregonians gave him, which, simply put, is to pursue the interests of his constituents. That intention, however, is no match for an ugly reality of his own making, whose sordid elements keep surfacing with dispiriting regularity, most recently this week thanks to the work of Nick Budnick and Laura Gunderson of The Oregonian/OregonLive. Two people involved in Kitzhaber’s 2010 campaign helped Hayes find paid work with groups interested in Oregon policy, Budnick and Gunderson reported. Both have landed in Kitzhaber’s administration.
More ugliness may surface, but it should be clear by now to Kitzhaber that his credibility has evaporated to such a degree that he can no longer serve effectively as governor. If he wants to serve his constituents he should resign.
Better late than never, eh? And meanwhile Oregon is stuck with this guy for the foreseeable future, and there is obviously no way for citizens to remove a First Lady. The Governor can be impeached, but it’s a difficult process as in most states. And even if he is, Oregon’s order of succession is rather strange, since they don’t even have an official Lieutenant Governor. The Secretary of State (also a Democrat) would take over and serve until the next general election rather than a special election being called.
Might have been nice to have all this information out there in the public before they went to the polls, huh? But on second thought, that would probably just make everyone upset.