Ex-Gov. Kitzhaber to pay $1K ethics fine

Agreement is subject to final OK by ethics commission

Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber addresses the media over allegations concerning First Lady Cylvia Hayes, Jan. 30, 2015 (KOIN 6 News)
Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber addresses the media over allegations concerning First Lady Cylvia Hayes, Jan. 30, 2015 (KOIN 6 News)

SALEM, Ore. (AP) – Former Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber has agreed with the state’s ethics commission to pay a $1,000 fine for allegedly violating ethics codes by failing to publicly declare a potential conflict of interest and for claiming airline travel miles for personal use that accumulated while on official business during his tenure.

Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, right, and his companion, Cylvia Hayes, react to a welcome from attendees at the awarding ceremony of the Enjoy Oregon Wine Fair in Tokyo, Sept. 13, 2011 (AP Photo/Hiro Komae, file)
John Kitzhaber and Cylvia Hayes react to a welcome from attendees at the awarding ceremony of the Enjoy Oregon Wine Fair in Tokyo, Sept. 13, 2011. (AP Photo/Hiro Komae)

The agreement, made public Wednesday, is subject to final approval by the Oregon Government Ethics Commission, which is meeting Friday in Salem.

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.

Kitzhaber, a Democrat, resigned in February 2015 over the allegations.

The U.S. Department of Justice said in June that the couple won’t face criminal charges.

In a statement Wednesday, Kitzhaber said:

“I welcome the recommended settlement before the Oregon Government Ethics Commission regarding the complaint filed against me by the Republican Party of Oregon in the last few weeks of the 2014 gubernatorial election. I apologize to Oregonians for failing to disclose a potential conflict of interest, although the ethical violations at issue were wholly unintentional.

“I have long been aware of the statute concerning the declaration of a potential conflict of interest. When I was a practicing physician serving in the legislature, I would declare a potential conflict when voting on the Medicaid budget because I saw people in the emergency room who were covered by Medicaid. In the case reviewed by the Ethics Commission, I did not perceive a conflict of interest because I understood the work that Ms. Hayes was doing for various non-profit organizations was not directed at trying to shape or influence state policy but, rather, to educate people regarding the issues to which she had committed her professional career. Furthermore, I referred matters regarding potential conflicts arising from Ms. Hayes’s work to general counsel and was not advised that I needed to publicly disclose a potential conflict.

“Having said that, I do not dispute the conclusion by the Ethics Commission that my failure to declare a potential conflict of interest violated the letter of law. I accept full responsibility for this violation and believe the proposed settlement to be a fair resolution of the case.”