By Associated Press • 

Emails show Kitzhaber OK'd Hayes' involvement

PORTLAND - The 94,000 emails between former first lady Cylvia Hayes and staff in the governor's office show Hayes regularly inserted herself in policy discussions with the blessing of her fiancee, then-Gov. John Kitzhaber.

The emails also show that few staffers pushed back, and Hayes regularly adopted a supervisory tone when addressing employees in the governor's office.

Those are among the findings of The Oregonian's review ( of many of the emails, which were released last week by Gov. Kate Brown, who succeeded Kitzhaber after his decision to step down in February. The Portland newspaper says more than 20 reporters and editors pitched in to review the massive trove of documents.

Throughout his 2014 re-election campaign and after his fourth inauguration in January, Kitzhaber insisted that Hayes’ private consulting work was kept separate from her role in the governor's office. But the emails show that Hayes knowingly mixed the roles.

In one email to Kitzhaber's then-chief of staff, Hayes complained about inadequate work to get media coverage of a visit to the coast.

“On many of these events I am doing events both as part of my fellowship work (clean economy, oceans) and as First Lady (Prosperity Init. and fill in for Gov),” she wrote. The Prosperity Initiative was an anti-poverty campaign.

She added her consulting work would soon add its own media team that could coordinate in a “hybrid approach” with the governor's communications staff.

Her work in the governor's office advanced with Kitzhaber's knowledge and encouragement, the emails indicate.

The former governor directed his top aides and other staff members to include her in email communications and policy meetings. Early on, Kitzhaber ordered that she be listed in state documents as an adviser on energy.

And just last year, he directed his staff to engage Hayes in the policy work of the office.

“It is important that the work Cylvia does on the Prosperity Initiative (and the remarkable following she has created) is coordinated and aligned with the overall administration,” Kitzhaber wrote last year as he mapped out plans for a fourth term.

“That is, she needs to be engaged in strategic planning and long-term scheduling; she needs communication support for her public appearances; and the groups she is convening, her efforts to secure grant funding, etc., need to be part of our overall strategic plan.”

In one 2014 email, Hayes vented when one of Kitzhaber's advisers didn't alert her personally about a state budget decision.

“It would have been nice to be informed of our moving forward on avoiding the food stamp cuts,” she wrote. “I had emails that caught me unprepared because I did not know we had decided to move forward.”

And another from last year: “Perhaps when you send me a report like this and you know that some action is being taken (like the OPUC analysis) you could let me know that in the original email.”

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