By Associated Press • 

Judge says Cylvia Hayes can use 5th Amendment to withhold emails

SALEM - An Oregon judge has ruled that Cylvia Hayes, the state's former first lady, can use her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination to block the release of some of her personal emails.

The Oregonian newspaper reported Sunday that Marion County Circuit Judge Tracy Prall issued the ruling last week in a case that concerns a public records request for an estimated 114,000 of Hayes' emails — 94,000 of which have already been released publicly.

Hayes is the fiancee of former Gov. John Kitzhaber, who resigned earlier this year over allegations that the former first lady used her relationship with him to land contracts for her business. She went to court to block an order from the state attorney general's office demanding that she turn over the emails, dating to the start of Kitzhaber's administration in 2011.

The Oregonian said it is only seeking her emails that relate to the conduct of government business.

Kitzhaber had handily won re-election in November to an unprecedented fourth term after surviving the botched rollout of Oregon's online health care exchange, which turned into a national embarrassment.

But the allegations surrounding Hayes’ work were more harmful.

A series of newspaper reports chronicled Hayes’ work for organizations with an interest in Oregon public policy. At the same time she was paid by advocacy groups, she played an active role in Kitzhaber's administration, a potential conflict of interest.

The spotlight on Hayes led to her revealing that she accepted about $5,000 to illegally marry a man seeking immigration benefits in the 1990s. Later, she acknowledged purchasing a remote property with the intent to grow marijuana.

After Kitzhaber resigned in February Kate Brown, formerly the secretary of state, was sworn in as Oregon's governor.

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