SALEM – Former Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber has agreed with the state’s ethics commission to pay a $1,000 fine for failing to publicly declare a potential conflict of interest, and for being credited frequent flier miles once when he traveled on state business.
The agreement, made public Wednesday, appears to be the final chapter in the scandal that led to the Democratic governor’s resignation in February 2015. The agreement is subject to final approval by the Oregon Government Ethics Commission, meets on Friday.
As part of the agreement, the commission will drop further investigation into whether Cylvia Hayes used her relationship as Kitzhaber’s fiancee to win contracts for her green-energy consulting business. The former governor’s signature appeared at the bottom of the document, dated Nov. 7. The commission noted it could have assessed fines up to a total of $20,000.
After investigating the matter, the U.S. Department of Justice said in June that the couple won’t face criminal charges. Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum previously announced the state would not bring charges.
Kitzhaber had insisted he broke no laws, though the ethics commission said there were potential conflicts of interest when his duties as governor overlapped with the issues that the consulting firm, 3E Strategies, was receiving payment for. 3E Strategies could have had financial gains or losses stemming from Kitzhaber’s policy decisions and public appearances, the commission said.
Oregon law “requires an elected public official to make a public announcement of the nature of the potential conflict of interest prior to taking any official action on the matter,” the commission wrote, adding that Kitzhaber failed to make such public announcements, for example through press releases.
Secretary of State Kate Brown, also a Democrat, assumed Oregon’s highest office after Kitzhaber resigned just over a month into his fourth term. She was elected last November to complete his term and is a candidate for re-election in 2018.
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