Governor Kitzhaber’s fall from grace

This piece originally appeared in the Mar. 16, 2015 issue of High Country News:

In February, on an especially strange Friday the 13th, Oregon Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber announced his resignation. Over the past several months, Willamette Week, The Oregonian and other media outlets had revealed that clean energy consultant Cylvia Hayes — Kitzhaber’s fiancée and energy policy advisor — may have violated ethics and public corruption laws by using her access to Kitzhaber’s office for personal financial gain, possibly with his knowledge and participation. Since 2011, Hayes had reportedly landed at least $213,000 in consulting contracts with groups working to advance the same causes on which she advised him.

“I have become a liability to the very institutions and policies to which I have dedicated my career,” Kitzhaber conceded in a quavering voice. The state House speaker and Senate president, both fellow Democrats, had joined The Oregonian in calling for him to step down. Kitzhaber finally did so but remained defiant, denying wrongdoing and aiming a barb at his accusers and former allies, charging that he had been “tried, convicted and sentenced by the media with no due process.” More…