Breaking: Kitzhaber to resign today; Update: Effective February 18th

Earlier on Twitter, Allahpundit remarked that today had the feel of a Brian-Williams-resigns kind of document-dump Friday. My money, I replied, was on Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber (D) — and it turns out to be the correct call.

The day is still young, though:

WW has learned Gov. John Kitzhaberannounced his resignation to his staff today and is prepared to make a formal announcement this afternoon, little more than a month after he was sworn in as the first four-term governor in Oregon history.

The resignation caps a tumultuous week in which Kitzhaber appeared to have decided to resign, only to change his mind at least twice.

Kitzhaber, 67, saw his 36-year political career consumed by an influence-peddling scandal centered on private consulting contracts that his fiancee, first lady Cylvia Hayes, obtained from advocacy groups seeking to impact state policy.

Those contracts, which paid Hayes more than $200,000, also benefited Kitzhaber because the two share a household. WW first reported on Hayes’ contracts and the conflict of interest they presented last October and since then new allegations have emerged.

The AP followed up its tweet with this report:

Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber said he planned to resign amid allegations his fiancee used her relationship with him to enrich herself – a stunning fall from grace for the state’s longest-serving chief executive, a person with direct knowledge of the situation said Friday.

The decision capped a wild week in which Kitzhaber seemed poised to step down, then changed his mind, but ultimately bowed to calls from legislative leaders that he quit the state’s top job. The person spoke only on condition of anonymity because the person wasn’t authorized to talk about the governor’s plan.

The Oregonian reports that the effective date of his resignation is “still uncertain,” but an earlier report had the state Senate’s ranking Republican heading to the swearing-in of Kate Brown, currently Secretary of State. There doesn’t seem to be much reason to delay; his own party wants him out as soon as possible.

Aaron Blake notes that a recall effort had begun in case Kitzhaber balked again at leaving:

As summarized over on GovBeat, first lady Cylvia Hayes was guiding state employees on the implementation of a new policy even as she was doing private consulting work for a group pushing the same policy. The story has taken several turns, most recently with the Oregonian, the state’s largest newspaper, calling on Kitzhaber to resign. A recall effort has also been launched, as has a criminal investigation by the state attorney general. And tangentially, there’s that whole matter from last year about Hayes having married an 18-year-old Ethiopian to secure a green card for him in exchange for $5,000. She neglected to inform the governor of this before the media unearthed it.

It’s a scandal practically made for media coverage. Despite that, there hasn’t been a ton of national coverage to the crisis in Oregon until this week. Contrast that with the kind of coverage Bob McDonnell and his now-estranged wife got for their scandal in Virginia. That’s partly attributable to geography — Virginia’s adjacent to the DC media, while Oregon’s almost 3,000 miles away. There might be another difference too, linked to party affiliation. We’ll see how much media attention this gets through the investigation into both Hayes and Kitzhaber.

Hey, if NBC and Williams wanted to avoid the media glare with another announcement, this wouldn’t be a bad time to give it a shot…

Update: Fox says it’s effective on February 18th, which is also Ash Wednesday. There’s been no explanation as to why he needs another five days around the office.

Update: Added (D) to Kitzhaber’s name in the lead, since neither of the first two reports noted his Democratic Party affiliation.

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