PORTLAND, Ore. – Former Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber said he is “disappointed” after the Oregon Government Ethics Commission chose to reopen an ethics investigation into whether Kitzhaber and his fiancée, Cylvia Hayes, used their positions as governor and first lady for financial gain.
Kitzhaber said that while the investigation is not what he “hoped for,” he will cooperate with investigators.
The state ethics commission halted its investigation two years ago after criminal investigations at the state and federal level were launched.
Those investigations concluded earlier this year that no criminal charges should be filed against Kitzhaber or Hayes.
The state ethics investigation was reopened July 14. The commission has 180 days to complete its investigation.
“For the past two years—based on the same allegations made in this complaint to the OGEC— I have been investigated by four separate federal agencies including the FBI, the Federal Office of Public Integrity and the Office of the U.S. Attorney. None found any grounds upon which to pursue charges,” Kitzhaber said in a statement.
“With the federal investigation laid to rest, the notion of another six months of investigation was understandably not what I had hoped for. Nonetheless, I understand the OGEC operates under a complaint-driven process and has a complaint before it. I will certainly cooperate with the Commission and if I inadvertently stepped across the line. I certainly want to know about it and assume accountability for it.”
Kitzhaber said the criminal investigations already exonerated him and Hayes from “all alleged wrongdoing.”
Kitzhaber resigned from office shortly after he was inaugurated to his fourth term as governor, due to allegations that he and Hayes violated state ethics rules and profited from their positions.
Oregon’s government ethics rules prohibit public officials from using their positions for financial gain and require public officials to declare potential or actual conflicts of interest.
The standard of proof for ethics violations is lower than for criminal charges.