Yamhill Valley News-Register Calls for Kitzhaber's Resignation

The Yamhill Valley News Register, the twice-weekly paper serving McMinnville since 1866, today became the second newspaper in Oregon to call for the resignation of Gov. John Kitzhaber over the unfolding scandal surrounding him and first lady Cylvia Hayes. Earlier this week, The Oregonian editorial board became the first newspaper to make that call. (Notably, The O endorsed Kitzhaber during the 2014 race for governor. The News-Register endorsed Kitzhaber's Republican opponent, Dennis Richardson.)

Here's what the News-Register published today:

Dear Kitz, 

You know the warning: The cover-up is worse than the crime.

As ingrained as that truth has become, it’s amazing people with such high profiles seem to pay it so little heed. But it was true for Richard Nixon, and it's becoming true for you.

Your fiancée, Cylvia Hayes, took unconscionable advantage of the status you bestowed on her as trusted adviser, Oregon’s First Lady and, indeed, even as life partner. And thanks to a concerted effort to contain the damage, what began as a drip of bad press has turned into a torrent of scandalous exposés.

You have ardently resisted coming straight and, frankly, that no longer surprises us. While you have enjoyed many successes, your once-admirable legacy has become soiled by your refusal to recognize and rectify wrong turns.

Now, you are entangled in a web of ethics violations that could easily turn criminal. You have abetted Hayes in reckless misuse of favor and influence, and quite possibly income tax evasion — a crime that has brought down many of the mighty. That constitutes willful ignorance at best and outright collusion at worst.

The press conference last Friday was telling. You looked like a man stranded on a desert island, his cowboy boots sinking ever deeper in the sand as he awaits rescuers who aren’t coming.

You’ve been either unable or unwilling to get out in front of this cascade of ethical lapses, and now it’s too late. Your friends are slinking off and your enemies edging in.

You tried humor and pop culture references to distract the press and public when you took the stage Friday. But no one in either group is taking this lightly any longer. You are in much too deep for that.

In some parts of the country, trading on the trappings of high office is just part of politics. In some parts of the world, it is so interwoven in the process we would be shocked at its absence.

But Oregonians demand higher ethical standards. They will forgive misdealings and whiffed opportunities when they are convinced the heart was in the right place. But divided as they might be — Democrat vs. Republican, liberal vs. conservative, urban vs. rural — they are united in displaying little tolerance for the politics of personal gain.

The Oregonian got it right. It’s time for you to step down.


The editorial crew in McMinnville

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