SALEM, Ore. - Oregon government ethics investigators have concluded that former first lady Cylvia Hayes of Bend violated several state ethics laws by using her public position and state staff and resources to secure contracts for her environmental consulting firm and a paid fellowship.
The Oregon Government Ethics Commission released a more than 125-page investigative report Wednesday, two days before the panel meets in Salem. Their agenda includes taking up a staff recommendation for a preliminary finding of violations of three state statutes and to determine fines of up to $5,000 per violation.
Hayes, the fiancee of former Gov. John Kitzhaber, served as a policy advisor in his office. The pair have been under a state ethics investigation since last summer.
The state investigation followed a federal criminal investigation that lasted more than two years, after Portland's Willamette Week newspaper reported Hayes might have used her position to win several consulting contracts. The federal investigation led to no charges against the pair -- and by then, the statute of limitation had lapsed for any state charges.
The scandal led to Kitzhaber's resignation from office in February of 2015, succeeded by then-Secretary of State Kate Brown.
Last November, the state ethics panel rejected in a 7-1 vote a proposed $1,000 fine against Kitzhaber for failing to publicly declare a potential conflict of interest between his elected position and Hayes' work.
Some commissioners felt the proposed fine was too low. The commission could have assessed fines up to $20,000 for the violations, including Kitzhaber being credited for frequent flier miles once when he traveled on state business.
"A review of available information indicates that Ms. Hayes solicited paid contracts using her official position in the Office of the Governor and the access it provided her, used her official position ... to accomplish the deliverables on her paid contracts, and used the resources of the Office of the Governor to obtain a financial gain or avoid a financial detriment by using staff time and resources for her personal business," the report stated.
"The available evidence indicates that Ms. Hayes made decisions in her official capacity that could have affected her personal financial interest when she made decisions about speeches, meetings and policy that she used to obtain and complete paid contracts," the report summary continued. "When met with these decisions, Ms. Hayes had potential conflicts of interest and was required to follow the procedure" in state law to declare them, the investigator added.