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Oregon attorney general: Governor's actions 'troubling'

By Amy R. Connolly
Oregon attorney general: Governor's actions 'troubling'
Gov. John Kitzhaber and his fiancée have come under fire for alleged ethics violations. Photo courtesy Governor's office/Flickr

SALEM, Ore., Feb. 7 (UPI) -- Oregon's attorney general said allegations that Gov. John Kitzhaber and his fiancée used his position to get her private consulting work and a role as an unpaid adviser are "very serious -- and troubling."

Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said she is "considering all of our legal options" regarding an investigation into the dealings of Kitzhaber and Cylvia Hayes, who serves as the first lady of the state.

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"Recent allegations relating to Governor Kitzhaber and Ms. Hayes are very serious -- and troubling. My office is considering all of our legal options to ensure that we are best serving the state," she said in a written statement to The Oregonian.

Kitzhaber has come under fire after media reports that Hayes received $118,000 in consulting fees in 2011 and 2012 from the Washington D.C.-based Clean Economy Development Center while advising the governor about tax issues. Kitzhaber did not disclose her income from the group on his annual economic interest statements. Hayes has earned at least $143,000 from jobs as a result of her connection to Kitzhaber.

Hayes also admitted that in 1997 she married an Ethiopian immigrant in exchange for $5,000, and she purchased land with a former boyfriend to grow marijuana.

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The Oregonian, the largest newspaper in the state and a long-time supporter of the Democratic governor, called for Kitzhaber to resign, but he has refused. The newspaper's editorial board has supported Kitzhaber in his four gubernatorial elections

"Whether through gross inattention or complicity, Kitzhaber has broken faith with Oregonians. His career in Oregon politics is one of great accomplishment, but his past success does not excuse the mess he has made of the office with which Oregonians entrusted him. He is now less a governor than a source of unending distraction. He can no longer lead Oregon effectively and should resign. His constituents deserve better," the editorial board said.

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