Oregon's first lady admits illegal marriage to Ethiopian immigra - KPTV - FOX 12

Oregon's first lady admits illegal marriage to Ethiopian immigrant

Posted: Updated:
"I was ashamed and embarrassed.  Therefore I did not share this information even with John once we met and started dating," says Oregon first lady Cylvia Hayes. "I was ashamed and embarrassed. Therefore I did not share this information even with John once we met and started dating," says Oregon first lady Cylvia Hayes.
Oregon Gov. Kitzhaber is engaged to first lady Cylvia Hayes. Oregon Gov. Kitzhaber is engaged to first lady Cylvia Hayes.
PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

Oregon first lady Cylvia Hayes admitted Thursday she illegally married an Ethiopian immigrant because she needed money and he needed help to stay in the United States.

Hayes said she married 18-year-old Abraham Abraham in 1997 during a "difficult and unstable period in my life." She said she was ashamed and embarrassed by the marriage, and for that reason, she never disclosed it to her current fiance Gov. John Kitzhaber.

"This is the most painful part for me," she said. "John Kitzhaber deserved to know the history of the person he was forming a relationship with. The fact that I did not disclose this to him meant that he has learned about this in the most public and unpleasant way."

RELATED: Read Cylvia Hayes' full statement on her illegal marriage

Hayes' admission comes after the Willamette Week discovered she had been married and divorced three times - not two - and that the previously undisclosed third marriage was to Abraham. She told Willamette Week that Kitzhaber did not know about the third marriage until Tuesday afternoon.

The marriage with Abraham took place on July 19, 1997 in Washington state when Hayes was 29 years old, according to the Washington State Department of Health certificate of marriage. 

"We met only a handful of times. We never lived together. I have not had any contact with him since the divorce finalized in 2002," Hayes said.

Immigrants can obtain citizenship in the U.S. through marriage, but the U.S. government doesn't recognize relationships as marriages if the purpose is to evade U.S. immigration laws.

"It was wrong then and it is wrong now and I am here today to accept the consequences, some of which will be life changing. And I cannot predict what direction this will go," Hayes said.

Willamette Week uncovered the information about Hayes during its investigative reporting on Hayes' two-career life as a public official and as a private consultant.

It's unclear how this new information about Oregon's first lady will affect Kitzhaber, who began an unprecedented third term as Oregon's governor in 2011. He is up for re-election in November and running against Republican candidate Dennis Richardson. FOX 12 political analyst Tim Hibbitts said Kitzhaber and Richardson will know soon whether the new information about Hayes will damage the governor's campaign.

"If the polls come out a week from now or 10 days from now and show nothing has happened, that tells me this was water off a duck's back for voters. They didn't care," Hibbitts said. "On the other hand, 10 days from now if we see a 12 or 14 point lead down to a 5 point race, clearly it's been damaging.

Copyright 2014 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly
FOX 12
Powered by WorldNow CNN
All content © 2018, KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation, Portland, OR . All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices.