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Governor's fiancee lived at home intended for pot

By JONATHAN J. COOPER
Of the Associated Press

SALEM — When she announced that she had taken thousands of dollars to enter a fraudulent marriage, the fiancee of Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber said the illegal move came in a turbulent time in her life 17 years ago.

Another episode from that period of her life emerged late Monday, when Oregon first lady Cylvia Hayes said she'd she lived on a property that was intended to be used for a marijuana growing operation.

Responding to inquiries from a Portland television station, Hayes said the marijuana grow operation in Washington state “never materialized,” although the man who sold the property said he found evidence that it did.

“I am not proud of that brief period of time,” Hayes said after receiving inquiries from KOIN-TV. “I was involved in an abusive relationship with a dangerous man.”

Hayes got engaged over the summer to Kitzhaber, who is seeking a fourth term in next month's election. Controversies about Hayes’ past and her more recent business deals have become a political liability for the Democratic governor. Kitzhaber will face his Republican rival, state Rep. Dennis Richardson, in their final debate on Tuesday, a day before election workers will send out ballots in Oregon's all-mail election.

Hayes said last week that she was paid about $5,000 to enter a fraudulent marriage to help an immigrant remain in the United States. The marriage occurred about four months before Hayes and another person purchased the property for a marijuana grow operation. Hayes has also come under fire for a more recent issue — earning money from organizations seeking to influence state policy.

Hayes said she was never financially involved in the marijuana grow, and shortly after moving there “began to make plans to get away.” She moved to Oregon in July 1998 “and began building a life and career that I am very proud of.”

“I did not pay any part of the down payment or mortgage payments. I had no money. The money I had received in July 1997 for entering a fraudulent marriage was used as I have previously stated — to purchase a laptop and pay school expenses.”

A real estate broker who owned the property before selling to Hayes and a man told The Oregonian and KOIN that he found trimmings of marijuana plants. Patrick Siemion said he did not see marijuana plants but found fertilizer and irrigation tubing that he considered evidence of a grow.

“He was not the leader,” Siemion said of the man with Hayes in an interview with The Oregonian. “The leader was her. She did all the talking, all the negotiating. I remember her saying, ‘Oh this is just the perfect place, we're so happy to have it.’”

Richardson, the Republican candidate for governor, has tried to keep the focus on Hayes’ consulting work, arguing that Hayes’ outside work is part of a pattern of missteps that show Kitzhaber's administration is “inept and unethical.”

Kitzhaber on Monday asked a state commission for a formal opinion on whether Hayes is subject to state ethics laws and, if so, whether she's broken them.

Kitzhaber told The Associated Press that his office has taken care to make sure that Hayes’ consulting work doesn't pose a conflict of interest, including proactively reviewing her contracts before she agreed to work. But all three contracts made public by the governor's office were reviewed only after they went into effect.

“The question all Oregonians have to ask themselves now is: What else is John Kitzhaber lying about?” said Charlie Pearce, Richardson's campaign manager.

Comments

I Am Darren Wilson

Politicians will be politicians and it appears to me that Hayes definitely has the qualities that one would expect to see in a politicians wife. I don't think that these revelations will hurt Kitzhaber one little bit with democratic voters. Sadly.

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