It's now been 11 months since the Oregon Government Ethics Commission found former Oregon First Lady Cylvia Hayes had committed 22 violations of state ethics laws.
That made Hayes subject to fines of up to $5,000 for each violation. Ethics commissioners, frustrated that Hayes did not show up at the Jan. 5 meeting to defend herself, expressed an interest in seeking the maximum punishment.
Yet when the commission released its 224-page agenda for today's year-end meeting in Salem, Hayes was once again absent from its deliberations.
"We are still in negotiations on the settlement," OGEC director Ron Bersin told WW via email this morning.
Hayes' fiance, former Gov. John Kitzhaber, long ago resolved the violations the OGEC found he'd committed. Those violations related to the influence-peddling allegations that led to his abrupt resignation in February 2015, shortly after winning his fourth term as governor. Kitzhaber agreed to pay $20,000 in fines to the OGEC.
Part of the delay with Hayes may be that she declared bankruptcy in July, seeking protection from The Oregonian, whom she owes $128,000 in attorney fees. (She sued the paper to block the release of emails she'd sent an received as first lady but lost that case.)
A filing earlier this week in U.S. Bankruptcy Court shows that The Oregonian and the OGEC asked the judge for more time to file their objections to Hayes' Chapter 13 plan (she filed Chapter 13 bankruptcy, which entails establishing a payment plan with creditors, rather than Chapter 7, in which the debtor walks away from debts that exceed assets).
The Oregonian and the OGEC now have until Dec. 31 to file those objections.
Hayes' attorney, Michael Fuller, says bankruptcy protection will protect Hayes from having to pay whatever fine the OGEC may levy. He says he is still negotiating with The Oregonian, which placed a lien against Hayes' Bend home to ensure payment of its legal fees.