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US governor announces his resignation amid scandal

February 13, 2015

SALEM, Oregon (AP) — One of the longest-serving U.S. governors announced his resignation amid allegations his fiancee used her relationship with him to enrich herself.

Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber on Friday said he broke no laws and said in a lengthy statement that his resignation would be effective on Wednesday

Secretary of State Kate Brown, a Democrat like Kitzhaber, was expected to assume the office and become the first openly bisexual governor in the U.S.

Kitzhaber handily won re-election in November to a fourth term, a rare feat for American governors, who hold considerable power in most states.

But the allegations surrounding his fiancee Cylvia Hayes’ work dominated headlines in the state following his victory.

The spotlight on Hayes led to her revealing that she accepted about $5,000 to illegally marry a man seeking immigration benefits in the 1990s. Later, she admitted she bought a remote property with the intent to grow marijuana.

Kitzhaber’s decision capped a week in which he 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 announcement is a stunning fall from grace for the longest-serving chief executive in Oregon history.

By Thursday, the leaders of the state Legislature said he had to go. Other top officials in the overwhelmingly Democratic state also said Kitzhaber should resign.

A series of newspaper reports since October have chronicled Hayes’ work for organizations with an interest in Oregon public policy. At the same time, she was paid by advocacy groups, she played an active role in Kitzhaber’s administration, a potential conflict of interest.

Though questions about Hayes have swirled for months, the pressure on Kitzhaber intensified in recent weeks after newspapers raised questions about whether Hayes reported all her income on her tax returns.


Follow Jonathan J. Cooper at http://twitter.com/jjcooper.

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