"The "disruption" was agonizing."
2/13/15, "Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber resigns amid ethics investigations," LA Times, Maria L. LaGanga, Salem, Ore.
"Gov. John Kitzhaber announced his resignation Friday, ending weeks of
speculation about whether he could lead Oregon with the cloud of at
least two investigations into possible ethical breaches hanging over his
The resignation, which is effective Wednesday, was sent in a
letter submitted to Secretary of State Kate Brown, who is expected to
“I am announcing today that I will resign as Governor of the State of Oregon,” he wrote in a statement released just after noon.
is not in my nature to walk away from a job I have undertaken - it is
to stand and fight for the cause. For that reason I apologize to all
those people who gave of their faith, time, energy and resources to
elect me to a fourth term last year and who have supported me over the
past three decades. I promise you that I will continue to pursue our
shared goals and our common cause in another venue.”
Kitzhaber had met with his staff in the late morning to tell them his plans.
embattled governor faces allegations that his fiancee used their
relationship to win contracts for her consulting business and failed to
report income on her taxes. The state’s two top legislative leaders and
the state treasurer -- all Democrats, as is the 67-year-old governor--
had called on Kitzhaber on Thursday to resign.
Brown was poised to
move to the governor's office, but will have to run in 2016. In a
statement, Treasurer Ted Wheeler noted the looming election.
have been around long enough to know that the resignation of Gov.
Kitzhaber and the constitutional mandate for an election in 2016 will
set off a flurry of speculation about what happens next," he said.
will be a time for politics, but now is not that time. In the coming
days, Oregonians should pull together to support Gov. Brown and her team
in their efforts to bring stability to the governor’s office."
Wheeler went on to thank Kitzhaber for his service.
wish him the very best in the years ahead. Oregonians are a resilient
people, and I am certain that we will emerge from this difficult period
as a stronger and more unified state,” he said.
representing Democratic and Republican governors agreed that Kitzhaber
was right to step down, but differed sharply on what happens next. The
Democratic group praised Brown while the Republicans called for new
leadership in 2016.
Although questions about First Lady Cylvia
Hayes, a 47-year-old clean energy consultant, have dogged the couple for
months, the end of Kitzhaber's 35-year career in public service came
swiftly and agonizingly.
On Monday, state Attorney General Ellen F. Rosenblum announced in a
three-sentence letter to Kitzhaber that she had begun a criminal
investigation into the troubled first couple. The state Ethics
Commission was already investigating whether Hayes had falsified tax
forms and been paid consulting fees to influence her future husband and
just what Kitzhaber's involvement had been.
The next day,
Kitzhaber sat down with Peter Courtney, president of the state Senate
and a longtime friend and colleague, and said he planned to step down,
ending his historic fourth term after just a month.
He also called
Secretary of State Kate Brown, who was in Washington, D.C., for a
conference, and summoned her back to Oregon for an emergency, private
On Wednesday, Brown hopped on a plane. But when she was
escorted into the governor's office, Kitzhaber asked her why she was
there. He later announced, emphatically and for the third time in less
than two weeks, that he had no plans to resign.
came the political bombshells. Courtney and Tina Kotek, speaker of the
state House of Representatives, had met late into the evening Wednesday
and finally decided that they had no choice but to demand Kitzhaber's
The chaos in the Capitol had been threatening the
workings of the Beaver State, where the legislature was in session,
executive appointments had to be made, Courtney said, and the
"disruption" was agonizing.
"That's what makes this so
significant," Courtney said Thursday. Beyond asking for Kitzhaber's
resignation, "we have no powers. What am I going to do? I'm not going to
stop committees from meeting. I'm not going to stop the session.”
then on Thursday, Courtney read the statement that he had written for
the day Kitzhaber would resign. The emotional state Senate president and
longtime Kitzhaber friend didn't know it at the time, but he was a day
"No public servant has given more to Oregon," Courtney said after
cataloging the former emergency room doctor's long history in public
service -- as a state representative, a state senator, president of the
state Senate and 12 years in the governor's office, "longer than anyone
State House Republican Leader Mike McLane
said it was a sad day for Oregon. “I take no delight in John Kitzhaber's
resignation but understand his decision,” McLane said in a statement.
Capitol was a strange mix of somber and festive in the hours leading up
to Kitzhaber's Friday the 13th announcement. On Saturday, Oregon would
be celebrating statehood, and the Oregon Wheat Commission had brought
big sheetcakes that proclaimed, "Happy Birthday Oregon 156."
Archivist Mary Beth Herkert had set up shop under the rotunda, one
floor below the beleaguered governor's ceremonial offices. She flipped
the pages of the original Oregon Constitution, a supple document that
prepared the state for days just like this one.
Article V, Section
8a sets out the line of succession should a sitting governor resign:
Secretary of state. State treasurer. President of the state Senate.
Several governors before Kitzhaber had resigned, but none did so under a
Kitzhaber had managed to survive the 11th-hour
revelation that his fiancee and decade-long companion had entered into a
fraudulent green-card marriage in 1997, receiving $5,000 to wed an
Ethiopian national so that he could stay in the country.
But he could not survive the deepening scandal."
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