New report: Former Gov. Kitzhaber may have violated ethics laws - KPTV - FOX 12

New report: Former Gov. Kitzhaber may have violated ethics laws 11 times in office

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Former Gov. John Kitzhaber (KPTV file image) Former Gov. John Kitzhaber (KPTV file image)
SALEM, OR (KPTV) -

After a long investigation, a new report from the Oregon Government Ethics Commission says former Gov. John Kitzhaber may have violated ethics laws 11 times while in office.

Kitzhaber resigned in 2015 in the midst of the scandal involving his role as governor, his fiancee Cylvia Hayes and her consulting firm, 3EStrategies.

At this point, the findings in the report are only preliminary. The ethics commission will meet in Salem on Friday to decide whether to adopt the recommended 11 violations.

If it does, Kitzhaber would then have a chance to appeal and the matter may go through the court system.

The former governor is facing a maximum penalty of $5,000 per violation, or a potential total of $55,000.

Specifically, the report released Wednesday found that Kitzhaber may have used his official position for personal financial gain, or to avoid financial detriment, as it related to 3EStrategies.

The report said Hayes was given a policy position in Kitzhaber’s administration, which gave her the power to help shape policy, and for which she was paid.

Additionally, the report said Kitzhaber failed to properly disclose potential conflicts of interest on seven occasions as they related to Hayes and her firm.

The report also said he accepted a gift larger than the limits allow for public officials, improperly used frequent flier miles for personal travel and permitted state employees to care for Cylvia Hayes’ pets.

In response, lawyers for Kitzhaber wrote that he “unequivocally rejects the suggestion that he used his public office to obtain a financial benefit for himself or Ms. Hayes.”

They argue that while the commission has already found Hayes violated ethics laws 22 times in a separate investigation, Kitzhaber’s case “must be considered on its own merits” and that “it would be unjustified to find former Governor Kitzhaber in violation of ethics laws based solely on the inadequate inference that, because he had a personal relationship with Ms. Hayes, he was aware of her communications with others.”

Kitzhaber was the longest serving governor in Oregon history.

Hayes also has the opportunity to appeal the commission’s findings against her.

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