Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber announces resignation - KPTV - FOX 12

Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber announces resignation

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Gov. John Kitzhaber Gov. John Kitzhaber
The line of succession when the governor leaves office The line of succession when the governor leaves office
SALEM, OR (KPTV) -

Amid a scandal that has resulted in a criminal investigation and calls for his resignation, John Kitzhaber announced Friday that he will step down as governor of Oregon.

The resignation is effective at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 18.

Kitzhaber released a statement saying he realized that recent scandals have become a distraction that damaged his reputation.

"I understand that I have become a liability to the very institutions and policies to which I have dedicated my career and, indeed, my entire adult life. As a former presiding officer I fully understand the reasons for which I have been asked to resign," he said.

Kitzhaber also blamed the media for the controversy, stating that he is confident he didn't break any laws or act dishonestly.

"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.

READ: Gov. John Kitzhaber's resignation letter

The Democrat is facing the biggest crisis of his nearly four-decade political career, as allegations of unethical and potentially unlawful behavior continue to surface in regard to his fiancee, Cylvia Hayes, who admitted to an illegal marriage in the 1990s and who is accused of using her role as an advisor to the governor to benefit her consulting business.

Oregon's attorney general has since opened an investigation into the matter, and both Kitzhaber and Hayes hired criminal defense attorneys. Ellen Rosenblum said the governor's decision to resign will not affect the ongoing criminal investigation.

As accusations swirled and two separate recall efforts got underway, Kitzhaber reportedly met with state leaders this week to let them know he intended to resign, only to later change his mind.

Thursday morning, Secretary of State Kate Brown issued a statement saying the governor had asked her to leave Washington D.C. for an unplanned return to Oregon, and then asked her why she had come back early once she arrived.

Several of the state's top officials and fellow Democrats, including Senate President Peter Courtney and Treasurer Ted Wheeler, said Thursday they asked for Kitzhaber to resign, as the scandal had become too much of a distraction.

Brown will take over the title of governor and will serve in that position until November 2016, when a successor will be elected.

Of Brown's ability to lead the state, Kitzhaber said, "Oregon will be in good hands and I wish her well."

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