Tag Archives: John Kitzhaber

Frohnmayer: one of the 'great ones'

Sad news came recently from my home state of Oregon: One of the state’s true statesmen, Dave Frohnmayer, died of prostate cancer.

I had moved away from Oregon while he was serving as attorney general. But I surely knew of his reputation, which the editorial from The Oregonian newspaper outlines nicely:


The paper refers to Frohnmayer’s “blinding” resume.

This moderate Republican was a giant in a state that has produced its fair share of them. He served his state and his party with dignity and honor. He wouldn’t be a party to the viciousness so common these days.

In a state that has been embarrassed by its most recent past governor, John Kitzhaber — who resigned because of an ethics scandal involving his fiancĂ©e — Frohnmayer was a model of moral turpitude.

He had his personal health struggles. His children were afflicted with rare and fatal diseases. He carried on quietly and bravely.

He led a great educational system, the University of Oregon; he served  his state as attorney general, in its legislature, and as dean of the UO law school.

Indeed, it was while he was dean that I had the pleasure of attending an Investigative Reporters and Editors conference in Eugene, where he was among the panelists instructing journalists on how to use public records and obtain information to which we were entitled.

This was in the late 1970s. I was new to journalism at the time and I was enthralled by the man’s knowledge of open records and the ease with which he presented it.

Here’s my favorite part of The Oregonian’s editorial tribute to Frohnmayer. It says it all: “Frohnmayer was exceptional in making himself and his extraordinary deeds appear ordinary – and in inspiring others along the way to rise to their best. In that sense he was arguably Oregon’s most extraordinary regular guy.”


Note: This is a corrected version of an earlier blog post, which initially contained an error regarding Dave Frohnmayer’s service to Oregon.

Governor quits; let the cleanup begin

Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber made it official: He’s leaving office in a few days amid a terrible ethics scandal involving his fiancĂ©e and a lobbying effort she allegedly launched using her position as “first lady.”

Now the attention is going to turn to incoming Gov. Kate Brown, the Oregon secretary of state who’s next in line for the top job.


Kitzhaber had to go. Top legislative Democrats went to the governor, also a Democrat, and told him he had zero support in the Legislature. He couldn’t govern with all the tumult swirling about him and fiancĂ©e Cylvia Hayes.

What now? The state needs to continue pursuing possible criminal charges against Hayes, who reportedly violated state ethics laws by funneling state business to her personal lobbying firm.

Virtually all states — including Texas — have laws that prohibit public officials from using their public office for private gain. Texas occasionally gets a bit lax in enforcing those rules. Therein is the lesson for all states: If you have these laws on the books, then it is essential that they are enforced to the letter.

Kitzhaber’s resignation should stop the pursuit of what allegedly occurred with Hayes’s lobbying efforts. If she broke state law, or if the soon-to-be former governor broke laws, they need to be prosecuted. Too often, though, these investigations wither and die once an officeholder leaves office, as if obtaining a resignation is enough of a punishment.

If the state believes in the ethics laws it has on the books, then the Kitzhaber-Hayes saga is far from over.

Hit the road, Gov. Kitzhaber

It’s looking like lights out for Oregon’s embattled governor.

John Kitzhaber is now getting the word from top state Democrats — his own partisans — that it’s time for him to go. A growing ethics scandal involving his fiancĂ©e, Cylvia Hayes, is now threatening to overwhelm his ability to govern his state — my home state.

It’s not looking good for the governor. He can’t possibly hang on.


His fiancĂ©e has been implicated in a scheme in which she funneled state business to her lobbying firm, allegedly using her connections as the state’s de facto first lady to fatten her wallet/purse.

As for Kitzhaber’s role in this, well, he is the governor and his fiancĂ©e allegedly was acting as the state’s agent.

It’s bad, man. Real bad.

As for state Democrats telling the governor it’s time for him to quit, this has a Watergate-ish ring to it.

Flash back to 1974. President Richard Nixon was in deep doo-doo over the Watergate scandal. It was revealed that he had told the FBI to back off its investigation of whether the president’s re-election committee was complicit in the break-in at the Democratic National Committee offices at the Watergate office complex.

The U.S. House Judiciary Committee then approved articles of impeachment against the president.

It was then that none other than Republican Sen. Barry Goldwater led a GOP delegation to the White House to inform the Republican president that he was toast, that he couldn’t be acquitted in a Senate trial. “You have to quit, Mr. President,” Goldwater said.

Nixon did resign a few days later.

History is sounding as if it’s repeating itself in the Oregon State Capitol Building.

You have to quit, Gov. Kitzhaber.


Governor in serious ethical trouble

The state of my birth is now the subject of a serious political scandal that is getting stranger by the day, if not the hour.

Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber’s fiancĂ©e, Cylvia Hayes, has been accused of using her position as “first lady” of the state for personal gain. It involves her lobbying activities and whether she presented herself as a representative of the state her significant other — Kitzhaber — governs.


The attached link spells out the trouble quite clearly.

The alleged profiteering reportedly has amounted to a lot of dough that’s gone to Hayes and, presumably, to Kitzhaber as well. The result has produced a firestorm in Oregon.

My hometown newspaper, The Oregonian, has called for the governor’s resignation. Kitzhaber so far hasn’t budged. As for Hayes, well, only the two of them know what they’re saying to each other in private.

But here’s the latest: Kitzhaber and Hayes have filed a response to the Oregon Ethics Commission complaint that borders on the laughable.

They contend that Hayes’s role as “first lady” isn’t an official government title, that she doesn’t run any agency so, therefore, she somehow is exempt from the allegations of conflict of interest that have peppered her. “The title ‘First Lady’ does not refer to an official office within Oregon state government or an officer of Oregon state government,” they wrote. “Ms. Hayes is not a public official.”

But as The Oregonian reported: “As for whether she was a public official, she subbed in for the governor at public events. She orchestrated meetings with senior state officials. She served as the governor’s unpaid adviser on energy and economic policies — by the governor’s reckoning, contributing thousands of hours.”

Doesn’t that make her a de facto state official? By my definition of the term “de facto,” that’s virtually the same thing as getting paid for her work on behalf of the state.

This drama has some distance to go before it plays out. My hunch is that it won’t end well for the governor and his first lady.