Friday, February 27, 2015

Oregon's Governor Resigns Amid Ethics, "Green Energy" Scandal

Oregon's four term Democrat governor John Kitzhaber announced his resignation last week amid growing pressure from an ethics investigation and reports that his fiancée was involved in a 'Green Energy' pay-to-play scheme.

According to media reports, Kitzhaber's fiancée- Cylvia Hayes- acted in a rather dubious triple role, acting as Oregon's de-facto First Lady, the governor's 'green energy' adviser and a paid consultant for the 'green energy' industry. However, while serving as Kitzhaber's unpaid energy advisor, Hayes reportedly pocketed $118,000 in consulting fees from various green energy lobbying firms- including some tied to billionaire democrat donor Tom Steyer- that she failed to disclose on her ethics filings for the governor's office.

While serving as an unpaid policy adviser for the governor’s office, Ms. Hayes collected $118,000 in fellowship and consulting fees from the Clean Economy Development Center, a Washington-based nonprofit, for work on low-carbon fuel standard legislation in Oregon.

Ms. Hayes never disclosed the payments on her ethics filings for the governor’s office.

The Clean Economy Development Center went out of business after the IRS pulled its tax-exempt status. Before it did, the center received funding for Ms. Hayes‘ fellowship from another nonprofit, the Energy Foundation, which in 2012 received $200,000 in funding from Mr. Steyer’s “TomKat” Charitable Trust, according to the group’s latest 990 tax form.

The Energy Foundation hired Ms. Hayes directly in 2013 for communications work, giving her a contract of $50,000, according to documents and interviews.

The web of payments, the failure to disclose and questions about influence peddling have prompted the state’s attorney general to open an ethics investigation. Republican state lawmakers also have demanded a suspension of the new fuel legislation, which would keep Oregon’s low carbon fuel standards in place instead of expiring this year.

Hayes is also suing The Oregonian in a move designed to prevent the release of e-mails she sent while working as a consultant to the governor. Her lawyers argue that Hayes is technically not a public official, despite closing some e-mails with the initials FLO- First Lady of Oregon.

These wouldn't be the first shady dealings that Hayes was involved in. In 2002, Hayes reportedly accepted $5000 to take part in a sham marriage to an Ethiopian immigrant and in the 1990s she was accused of participating in a scheme to buy acreage in Washington state to grow marijuana on.

Meanwhile, the FBI and IRS are investigating Kitzhaber, Hayes, former staffers and state officials on possible charges of tax evasion and influence peddling while the Willamette Week released more of Hayes' emails that indicated she sought to leverage her position with the governor to land additional lucrative contracts.

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