Update: Kitzhaber has resigned and Oregon has the nation's first openly bisexual governor.
Portland media has been having a field day (or rather field month or two) with Gov. John Kitzhaber's troubles and the back and forth question of whether he plans to step down or not. Now, as the story gets weirder, it's gone national with the New York Times, Christian Science Monitor and the Washington Post, among others, tracking Oregon's non-lethal version of OJ Simpson's slowspeed chase down the freeway.
Here's the WaPo's summary of what it calls "The Long, Bizarre — and Dumbfounding — Saga of Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber."
Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber (D) had decided to resign his office Tuesday over continuing questions about his fiancee's actions as a consultant, according to the Oregonian. Then, on Wednesday, he reportedly changed his mind.
The governor is pretty clearly holding onto his career by a thread. As summarized over on GovBeat, first lady Cylvia Hayes was guiding state employees on the implementation of a new policy even as she was doing private consulting work for a group pushing the same policy. The story has taken several turns, most recently with the Oregonian, the state's largest newspaper, calling on Kitzhaber to resign. A recall effort has also been launched, as has a criminal investigation by the state attorney general. And tangentially, there's that whole matter from last year about Hayes havingmarried an 18-year-old Ethiopian to secure a green card for him in exchange for $5,000. She neglected to inform the governor of this before the media unearthed it.
In its article, "Love and Politics Collide as Scandals Plague Oregon’s Fourth-Term Governor," the NYT kicks off with more on the enviro aspect of the Hayes saga and the fact Kitzhaber is a long-term governor:
The inquiries stem from contracting work that Ms. Hayes, 47, a clean-energy consultant, performed and was paid for while living with the governor and advising him on clean-energy issues. Those issues have long been a priority of Mr. Kitzhaber’s administration, but now they are bound up in, and perhaps undermined by, questions of whether love and politics got too cozy in the governor’s mansion.
But the deeper trouble is that after 12 years in office, the governor’s enemies and critics — and erstwhile supporters, who think he has simply stayed in office too long — have grown like compound interest over everything from his laid-back management style to the disastrous rollout of the state health insurance website, which never fully worked and cost hundreds of millions of dollars.
Today's latest was the news that Secretary of State Kate Brown — who would take the governor's seat should Kitz step down — was rushing back from Washington DC, leading politcos to speculate he was ready to leave. Before her plane landed, Kitzhaber announced he was in fact not stepping down.
Here is Brown's press release in response and you can hear more about it via KLCC.
As the Christian Science Monitor reports, fellow Dems such as state Treasurer Ted Wheeler are calling for Kitz to step down.
Willamette Week, which broke the Hayes saga originally, is now saying Kitzhaber's office sought to destroy thousands of documents.
The Oregonian, which has been birddogging the issue as well is now providing live updates.
Anyone taking bets on which late night and news-satire or commentary shows Oregon will be on tonight? This almost beats the attack owls.