Oregon Guv Resigns As Feds Probe Fiancee’s State Contracts

Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber has resigned amidst controversy focusing on his fiancée Cynthia Hayes.  Ms. Hayes, 20 years younger than the 67-year old Kitzhaber, has been at the center of multiple controversies since November 2014.  Most troubling, she may have used her access to the governor to obtain a $60,000 state contract for her eco-consulting firm, 3E Strategies.  While playing the role of first lady, she continued to work as a consultant and represent her clients in state-related work.

Kitzhaber and Hayes have been an item for ten years, and became engaged in August 2014.  Just prior to Kitzhaber’s reelection, local papers exposed sordid episodes from Ms. Hayes’ past.  It turned out that in 1997 she entered into a sham marriage with a teenage Ethiopian immigrant in exchange for $5,000.  (She cannot be prosecuted because the statute of limitations has now lapsed).  With a then-boyfriend, she also bought a rural property in Washington State to grow marijuana.  Although these incidents came to light a month before the gubernatorial election, Kitzhaber won reelection anyway.  Hayes claimed that the governor knew nothing of her past.

The newest allegations concerning Ms. Hayes’ consulting firm, however, are of a different order of magnitude and are the subjects of an FBI investigation.  Oregon Department of Energy records show that in 2009 (in between two of Kitzhaber’s terms as governor) Hayes’s firm 3E Strategies won a $60,000 consulting contract from the state, even though 3E had finished last among four bidders.

Probes by the Oregon Government Ethics Commission, the state attorney general, and the FBI are looking at the government contracts awarded to 3E, and investigating whether she and Kitzhaber improperly used the influence of the governor’s mansion to benefit the firm.

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