The Oregon Government Ethics Commission voted unanimously today to launch full investigations into former Governor John Kitzhaber and First Lady Cylvia Hayes.
The question is whether the first couple traded on their public position for private gain, improperly took gifts and violated conflict-of-interest statutes.
The Oregonian first reported on the vote this morning.
"There appears to be substantial investigative basis to believe John Kitzhaber may have violated Oregon Government Ethics Law," the preliminary review of the ethics violation found.
The preliminary review for Hayes reached the same conclusion.
A full investigation will be conducted over the next six months.
Neither Hayes' federal public defender Lisa Hay nor her private attorney Whitney Boise were immediately available for comment. Janet Hoffman, Kitzhaber's lawyer, also could not immediately be reached for comment, but contested the findings of a July 12 response to the preliminary report.
"Like the Republican Party's initial complaint, the preliminary report relies almost entirely on new stories based on speculation and cherry-picked excerpts from a handful of former Governor Kitzhaber's emails," she wrote.
It's one more piece of the ongoing fallout for Kitzhaber and Hayes over her simultaneous roles both as an adviser to Kitzhaber on clean energy and economic development and as a private consultant with more than $225,000 in contracts in those areas.
After an Oct. 8, 2014 WW cover story about Hayes‘s dual roles, the ethics commission received complaints about possible influence peddling.
Kitzhaber resigned in 2015 after winning reelection to a historic fourth term.
The preliminary ethics investigation was put on hold during a federal probe. When the FBI declined to press charges in June, the ethics investigation was restarted within days.
Kitzhaber and Hayes have contested the ethics investigation since at least 2014 by saying Hayes was neither a public official nor a member of the Kitzhaber household.
This week, Hayes gave her first interview since the influence-peddling scandal that ended Kitzhaber’s career, speaking to WW news partner KATU-TV.
Hayes blasted WW‘s investigative reporting, saying it contained errors and created a false narrative about her. “I had so much rage and so much hatred toward the handful of media who were so dishonest,” she told KATU.
WW proudly stands by its reporting.