Cylvia Hayes' habit of not showing up for meetings of the Oregon Government Ethics Commission has again proved costly.
After OGEC staff and the Oregon Department of Justice hammered out a $44,000 settlement with Hayes for 22 violations of state ethic laws (announced publicly March 5), the OGEC was set to vote to approve the settlement today.
But The Oregonian reports that the bi-partisan commission unanimously rejected the deal with the former first lady of Oregon, who formerly served as a policy advisor to her fiancee, former Gov. John Kitzhaber.
Fourteen months ago, the OGEC made preliminary findings that Hayes had committed 22 violations of state ethics laws, relating to consulting contracts she received that overlapped with her public position. At that meeting, commissioners were dismayed that Hayes didn't show up to hear the case against her or present a defense. She was also absent today and the commission rejected the proposed $44,000 settlement.
"All of us felt offended that she would not appear in person," ethics Commissioner Dan Mason told The Oregonian.
Mason also told The Oregonian that the prospect of the state not receiving much if any of the $44,000 also helped kill the settlement.
"The discussion among all of us led to wondering if she would even pay anything," Mason said, "which tipped the scale on rejecting the agreement, in my opinion."
The commission's repudiation of a deal its staff had agreed to echoes an earlier chapter in the Kitzhaber-Hayes case. In 2017, the commission rejected a $1,000 settlement with Kitzhaber, saying the penalty was too little for his violations of state ethics laws.
The commission last year approved a $20,000 penalty for the former governor instead.
The OGEC will now seek a settlement with Hayes more palatable to its commissioners.