First there were conflict of interest allegations. Then came the admission of a sham marriage with an immigrant. And now it appears a farm was purchased in order to grow a great deal of marijuana.
But the scandals don’t center on Kitzhaber himself. Instead, the main character in Oregon’s October Surprises is Kitzhaber’s fiancée, Cylvia Hayes, who the governor elevated by bringing her on as an adviser and calling her the state’s “First Lady.”
The latest revelation about Hayes is that she planned to farm marijuana on 60 acres of land in rural Washington back in 1997. Hayes told reporters Monday that while she “planned” to use the expansive property to grow pot, the operation “never materialized” and the land went into foreclosure.
Also in 1997, Hayes entered a sham marriage with a Nigerian immigrant, for which she was paid $5,000. The fraudulent marriage was revealed [in early October].
The story was sparked by retired real estate broker Patrick Siemion, who found marijuana trimmings on the property after it was foreclosed. Siemion told The Oregonian that it was clear to him Hayes was the leader of the operation.
“She did all the talking, all the negotiating,” he said. Siemion did not return a call from The Daily Beast.
Hayes told reporters that she was “not proud of that brief period” in which she and a “dangerous man” who abused her lived on the property near the Canadian border. She also insists she was not “financially involved” with the down payment or mortgage payments on the property.
That's the bad news for Kitzhanber. This is the horrific, possibly career-ending news for him.
A dramatic shift in poll numbers has taken place since Governor John Kitzhaber’s campaign became riddled with scandal. A poll commissioned by KATU has Dennis Richardson with a surprising double-digit lead.
Even Dennis Richardson himself is surprised by the new numbers “It was just amazing to see that kind of a flip,” Richardson told KXL. “People finally have figured it out, that with cover-ups, waste, investigations, sweetheart deals, and pay-for-play they finally decided that’s not going to work for Oregon’s future.”
Kitzhaber, who was up 13-points before a steady dose of negative press is now down 17-points. With 18% of those polled saying they have shifted allegiances, and were once voting for the governor but are now voting for Richardson.
Richardson says he has met some of those 18% who have switched sides “I met some in the grocery store who said ‘I have been a Democrat all my life and I never thought I would vote for a Republican, but this isn’t about party, this is about integrity, honestly and honor.” Richardson said. “They all have different reasons, but they said ‘we’re voting for Richardson, we want to give him a chance.”
A 30-point swing in the space of a month? Here's hoping Oregon survives Richardson, whose record in the state legislature paints him pretty squarely as an anti-choice, anti-gay Tea Party bigot who thinks sexual orientation is a "behavior" that doesn't warrant any "special protections" and that he would have personally stopped the Sandy Hook school shooting massacre if he was an armed teacher.
His number one goal? The end of Medicaid expansion in Oregon, which will leave 200,000 plus without health insurance coverage. Richardson called Medicaid expansion "delusional" last year.
So think carefully before kicking Kitzhaber to the curb, Beaver State. You're about to give yourself a much worse problem.