Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber is running out of friends. On Thursday, Senate President Peter Courtney and House Speaker Tina Kotek – both Democrats – told the Governor he should resign immediately. The governor is facing intense scrutiny over the ethics scandal and criminal investigation into whether “First Lady” Cylvia Hayes improperly used her political influence for financial gain.
Governor Kitzhaber has become embroiled in controversy over allegations that he and his girlfriend misused the office of the governor to further her consulting business. The governor has attempted to cover up his crimes and has been caught trying to destroy thousands of his personal emails even as the governor promised to be “open and honest” with Oregonians. State employees refused to follow his request, rightly recognizing that destroying public records is a criminal offense.
The Governor’s office has already proven its ineptitude with technology.
His administration was responsible for the Cover Oregon fiasco – the State Obamacare exchange website that cost taxpayers $350 million only for the state to then go back to the federal program. The website failed to enroll any Oregonians online weeks after its launch date and instead forced taxpayers hoping to enroll to complete a 20 page paper application.
After failing to create a useable website after two years work and over $300 million in funding, the Kitzhaber administration decided to flee back to the federal exchange – but not after spending millions more in taxpayer funding to do so.
It appeared that the Governor would step down yesterday and Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown would succeed him (Oregon does not have a Lieutenant Governor). The Governor requested Secretary Brown return from Washington DC immediately, only to tell her that he would not resign, in a “brief” meeting that Brown described as “bizarre”.
Given the governor’s record of mismanagement and corruption, he should resign immediately. Unfortunately, he appears stubbornly determined to remain in office even as his colleagues and the public insist for his resignation.