SALEM, Ore. -- Former First Lady Cylvia Hayes committed 22 ethics violations stemming from conflicts of interest, reception of gifts and misuse of her public office for financial gain, the Oregon Government Ethics Commission decided Friday morning.
During the meeting, commissioners called this a "generational" case that should be studied by civics classes and public officials as an example of exactly how not to ethically conduct private and public business.
“There was a complete blending of private, paid work, with government, public official work,” Chairwoman Alison Kean said.
Each violation could carry a maximum fine of $5,000. Additionally, the commission could require Hayes to forfeit up to twice the amount she earned from funds received in violation of ethics laws.
The ethics commission made its finding based on a more than 100-page report that laid bare evidence in emails, that Hayes had more likely than not committed a rash of ethics violations.
While the findings of this investigation focused on Hayes, commissioners said several times that these should also be considered against former Gov. John Kitzhaber since the violations often involved his decision.
"The responsibility for this abuse of position and abuse of office is shared by the governor," Kean said.
In November, the commission rejected a proposed ethics settlement with Kitzhaber because they wanted a more detailed investigation and the proposed fine of $1,000 was too small.
Kitzhaber's case is expected to be brought up before the commission again next month.
Neither Hayes nor her attorneys were present at Friday's the ethics meeting. The commissioners expressed on several occasions their disappointment that no one was there to give a statement or answer questions from Hayes' perspective.
“She chose to ignore ethics laws for years … she chose not to be here today to be accountable before the commission,” said commissioner Nathan Sosa. “She needs to be held accountable now.”
An email asking for comment sent to one of Hayes' lawyers was not immediately returned.
The ruling follows a state ethics investigation released earlier this week. Commissioners praised the investigation for its thoroughness, especially considering the limited time and resources the investigator had to deal with.
The report spent considerable time outlining the ways Hayes used her position to further her work in the governor's office and her paid work at the same time.
The report says Hayes was required to separate the roles and not engage in public work that would financially benefit her or her business, 3EStrategies, which she did not do.
Hayes' actions included: promoting her ability to act as a facilitator through her public position and influence on policymakers in the executive and legislative branches; advance policy positions she was paid for from within the governor's office; convene meetings to discuss agendas she was paid for; and use state resources to make private travel arrangements, and make contacts and gain information for her private work.
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