Governor asks state to investigate allegations against fiancee
SALEM, Ore. (AP) Gov. John Kitzhaber on Monday asked the state's attorney general to look into influence-peddling allegations surrounding his fiancee's work for advocacy organizations.
In a defiant letter to Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, Kitzhaber maintained he and his partner, Cylvia Hayes, have done nothing wrong, but he said an outside review is necessary because of "the rush to judgment currently underway in the Oregon media."
The request is a change of course for the Democrat, who had insisted a state ethics commission could do an adequate investigation. But it came after Rosenblum publicly said she'd look into the allegations, and he stopped short of appointing a special prosecutor as his critics have requested since October.
He asked Rosenblum to conduct what he called a "factual review" of the allegations and pledged his full cooperation. He said he and Hayes would turn over any documents requested.
"I deeply regret that this situation has become a distraction from the important work of our state and look forward to your review and its conclusions," Kitzhaber wrote.
Rosenblum, a Democrat, responded with a three-sentence letter to Kitzhaber.
"Thank you for your letter," she wrote. "My office has already opened an investigation into this matter. I appreciate your intent to cooperate fully."
Last week, Rosenblum called the allegations very serious and troubling, and said her office was exploring her legal options.
A series of newspaper reports since October have showed Hayes did paid consulting work for advocacy groups seeking to influence state government. At the same time, she took an active role in Kitzhaber's administration.
The scrutiny intensified last week, when the editorial boards at two newspapers called for Kitzhaber to resign, including The Oregonian, the state's largest.
Follow AP writer Jonathan J. Cooper at http://twitter.com/jjcooper .
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