Disgraced Democratic Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber announced his resignation Friday, just after noon, local time. The newly re-elected governor was brought down by a scandal concerning his fiancee’s dealings with green energy groups.
Kitzhaber announced his resignation in a letter sent to Secretary of State Kate Brown, who will assume the governor’s office following Kitzhaber’s departure. Brown will be the nation’s first openly bisexual governor.
The announcement was to the point.
“Dear Secretary Brown:
Effective February 18, 2015, at 10 a.m., I am resigning my position as governor of Oregon.
John A. Kitzhaber, M.D.”
Kitzhaber’s Democratic allies had almost totally abandoned him by Friday, as the state treasurer, speaker of the House, and Senate president had all issued statements demanding his resignation. The governor himself apparently vacillated, according to The Oregonian, originally deciding to resign on Tuesday before changing his mind Wednesday, but then recommitting after seeing his lack of support.
In a longer statement released after his resignation became known, Kitzhaber castigated his Democratic colleagues for joining what he argues is a media feeding-frenzy: “I must also say that it is deeply troubling to me to realize that we have come to a place in the history of this great state of ours where a person can be charged, tried, convicted and sentenced by the media with no due process and no independent verification of the allegations involved,” Kitzhaber said. “But even more troubling — and on a very personal level as someone who has given 35 years of public service to Oregon — is that so many of my former allies in common cause have been willing to simply accept this judgment at its face value.
Kitzhaber was brought down by a scandal concerning the consulting and policy work conducted by his fiancee, Cylvia Hayes. Reports have revealed that Hayes was advising several state employees on energy policy while simultaneously receiving payments from the Clean Economy Development Center, a direct conflict of interest. Last week, The Oregonian called on Kitzhaber to resign– a call that many others quickly took up.
Oregon Senate Minority Leader Republican Ted Ferrioli spoke shortly before Kitzhaber’s statement came out.
“What should be a day of celebration [because Saturday is Oregon’s statehood anniversary] is turning into a day of reflection and mourning,” Ferrioli said to a crowd near the capitol. “We appear to be nearing the resignation of our governor and the investiture of a new governor.” He said he would not be attending Brown’s swearing in, but would instead return home in order to “grieve” Kitzhaber’s downfall.
Ferrioli also urged Brown to abandon several of Kitzhaber’s policies, in particular his “failed and corrupt energy policy.”
Kitzhaber was among Oregon’s most distinguished politicians, serving two terms as governor in the 90s and then returning to office in 2011. He was sworn in to a fourth term just three weeks ago.
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