The Eugene Register-Guard is calling for Gov. John Kitzhaber to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the business dealings of Kitzhaber's fiance, Oregon first lady Cylvia Hayes.

Here's what the Register-Guard, which endorsed Kitzhaber's November re-election, wrote in its Dec. 28 edition:

Kitzhaber has asked the Oregon Government Ethics Commission to examine

whether Hayes violated state laws that prohibit the use of public office

for private gain. The Oregon Republican Party and two individuals have

also filed complaints against Hayes. The commission is expected to

announce early next year whether it will conduct an examination.That wasn’t enough for state Rep.

Dennis Richardson, Kitz­haber’s Republican opponent, who during the

campaign asked that the governor appoint a special prosecutor. Kitzhaber

shrugged off that demand, and may have concluded that the voters have

vindicated his rejection. He should reconsider — a review along the

lines Richardson sought might be the quickest and surest way to settle

questions about Hayes’ actions.

One possibility would be to invite

a disinterested person with a high degree of credibility and a thorough

knowledge of the law — a retired state Supreme Court judge, perhaps —

to conduct interviews and examine documents, and then to present the

evidence to a Marion County grand jury. Such a process would be

independent of the governor’s office and the state Justice Department,

which is led by a political ally of the governor. The question of

whether Hayes or others breached any laws could be subject to the surest

possible test.

If the process were to result in

an indictment, so be it — a trial or plea bargain would follow, and

Hayes or any other defendant would either be acquitted or made to face

the music. If there were no indictment, the grand jury would succeed in

delivering a more thorough exoneration than could come from any other

Ted Kulongoski
Frank Yraguen
Barran Leibman