U.S. Department of Justice Announces: No Criminal Charges Against John Kitzhaber or Cylvia Hayes

Announcement comes nearly three years after federal investigation into alleged influence peddling began.

Former Gov. John Kitzhaber and Cylvia Hayes

Federal officials in Portland today announced they will not bring criminal charges against former Gov. John Kitzhaber and former first lady Cylvia Hayes.

Kitzhaber, a Democrat and the longest-serving governor in Oregon history, resigned Feb. 18, 2015 amid allegations that Hayes had used her access to him and his office to obtain private consulting contracts worth more than $225,000, while also serving as an advisor to Kitzhaber.

Here's the statement issued today by Kevin Sonoff, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney for Oregon Billy Williams:

"The investigation by the United States Attorney's Office for the District of Oregon, the Justice Department's Criminal Division, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation into the alleged misuse of former Governor Kitzhaber's and Ms. Hayes's positions for their personal benefit has concluded and no federal criminal charges will be sought."

"The United States will not comment further on this matter."

Hayes' attorney, federal public defender Lisa Hay, applauded the feds' decision.

"Based on our own investigation, we knew that Ms. Hayes had repeatedly discussed her consulting contracts within the administration and had attempted to comply with all ethics rules and regulations," Hay said in a statement. "It was not illegal for Ms. Hayes to pursue her career while Governor Kitzhaber governed. We are relieved that the U.S. attorney's complete review of the facts has vindicated Ms. Hayes and the Governor."

Kitzhaber issued a statement through a spokesman, blaming the media for his downfall.

"Over the last two years I have kept a low profile while resolving questions related to the federal investigation that began shortly after I was elected to a fourth term as Oregon's Governor," Kitzhaber said. "I'm glad to report the U.S. Attorney has concluded the investigation and found nothing to pursue. As I have said from the beginning, I did not resign because I was guilty of any wrongdoing, but rather because the media frenzy around these questions kept me from being the effective leader I wanted and needed to be. Then there was the real investigation, not by reporters, but by people with subpoena power and the ability to look at everything in context. They decided there was nothing to pursue. So I'm back."

Secretary of State Dennis Richardson, a Republican who lost to Kitzhaber in the 2014 governor's race, also issued a statement regarding the DOJ announcement.

"Today, the US Attorney announced the decision not to proceed with the federal prosecution of former Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber," Richardson said. "This decision does not change the fact that the Governor and Cylvia Hayes accepted money from those desiring to purchase influence."

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