John Kitzhaber resigns
February 13, 2015 3:08 PM   Subscribe

Less than 2 days after releasing a statement that he had no intention to resign, Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber has announced that he will step down on February 18th. Over the last four months, a number of ethical issues have come to light surrounding Kitzhaber's fiancé Cylvia Hayes, culminating in a criminal investigation, currently underway.

Secretary of State Kate Brown will be sworn in as Governor at 10am on the 18th, making her the first out LGBT Governor in the US.

(Kitzhaber previously)
posted by polymath (34 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Congratulations to Kate Brown and her family. (Are we not counting Jim McGreevey?) it's really, really nice to have an openly bisexual governor. Bisexuality is so misunderstood and maligned. Hopefully Governor Brown will do a good job for her state.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 3:38 PM on February 13, 2015 [7 favorites]

Brown's Thursday press release described a pretty strange situation, which of course made Kitzhaber look slightly unhinged. Following a suggestion on Twitter, I read it in my mind in a Frank Underwood voice.
posted by grouse at 3:41 PM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

I wonder if Hayes will dump Kitzhaber now that he no longer has any influence for her to peddle?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 3:45 PM on February 13, 2015 [3 favorites]

I read it in my mind in a Frank Underwood voice.

I read it in a Frank Drebin voice.
Gov. Kitzhaber: Who are you and how did you get in here?
Kate Brown: I'm the Secretary of State. And I'm the Secretary of State.
posted by prinado at 3:50 PM on February 13, 2015 [20 favorites]

Looks like Oregon's new governor is yet another stooge for Comcast
posted by any major dude at 4:01 PM on February 13, 2015 [3 favorites]

Congratulations to Kate Brown... it's really, really nice to have an openly bisexual governor.

From what I've read, she's even more open-minded than that, and responds positively to the interests of men, women, and cable companies.

Politicians are Supporting Comcast's TWC merger with Letters Ghostwritten by Comcast (The Verge, Jan 26, 2015)

posted by Auden at 4:02 PM on February 13, 2015 [8 favorites]

What a strange and bizarre way for Dr No's career to end. He spent so much of it fighting insane things in the legislature, only to turn into a circus in the course of a couple of weeks. Move along, there's nothing to see here/resigning/not resigning/destroy all my documents/oh wait I'm resigning.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 4:03 PM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

this is so very sad, but above all so human, a tragedy. I don't think he was ever able to see the FLOO as everyone else has seen her, even without agreeing. It was his desperate defense of someone who not only had a long record as a scofflaw, but who cultivated contempt in infinite 'minor' ways. It was the total lack of accountability for her, plus her claim that this would continue into "her" new term, as she called it, that fed the demand for his resignation
posted by mmiddle at 4:04 PM on February 13, 2015 [3 favorites]

That timeline is awesome.
posted by valkane at 4:07 PM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

What a bizarre trainwreck, first in super slow-motion and then at the end flying off the tracks.
posted by Dip Flash at 4:26 PM on February 13, 2015

This has just been astounding. . . .

But cheers for Governor Brown!
posted by Danf at 4:31 PM on February 13, 2015

Re: the situation Thursday, it looks like the Governor was prepared to resign, but his lawyer said "Are you crazy? Trade resignation for immunity! It's your only bargaining chip." But by then it was too late to make that bargain, he had no leverage.
posted by msalt at 4:36 PM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

> (Are we not counting Jim McGreevey?)

Yeah, this. While I certainly like this way of getting an LGBTQ gov better (just elected will be better yet), why doesn't he count as the first?
posted by gingerbeer at 5:38 PM on February 13, 2015

McGreevy was outed due to sexual harassment allegations. Kate Brown has been open about this for years. So while McGreevy said the words first, it was said the same way a first openly adulterous governor would. Kate Brown is courageous and awesome. McGreevy was doing damage control.
posted by munchingzombie at 5:55 PM on February 13, 2015 [3 favorites]

Agreed. Not a fan of McGreevey. But he was still there first, whether or not we think he's the exemplary model of an LGBTQ gov.
posted by gingerbeer at 6:03 PM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

Technically, we have no idea who the first LGBT governor was, because there could have been any number of men who were in the closet dating back to the founding of the union. If it's down to Brown and McGreevey, McGreevey only came out in the same press conference in which he resigned, so I think it would be at least reasonable to say that she is the first one to be openly so while serving. It doesn't seem entirely reasonable to count "part of a press conference" as sufficient portion of McGreevey's term to qualify for the honor.
posted by Sequence at 6:28 PM on February 13, 2015 [3 favorites]

Is it just me or does Brown's statement (linked by grouse) seem very... unclassy and inappropriate for a Secretary of State? If she felt the need to make a statement, I think the last two sentences of this one would have sufficed. I hope this isn't indicative of how she deals with political opponents.
posted by bread-eater at 6:35 PM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

Kate Brown may not be so good. I and others (Seth Wooley, for example) can attest that she has been a committed opponent of third parties and the referendum process, working to make it harder for independent candidates to get on the ballot at all levels, and working as hard as possible to close up the referendum problem (she threw as many bureaucratic obstacles as possible in the way of the legalization measure, for example).

I don't know that she's going to be progressive so much as a centrist/corporatist in the model of Jerry Brown.

So good on equality issues, but on everything else.... don't expect much to change in Oregon.
posted by LeRoienJaune at 6:49 PM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

At the very least, he seems a bit classier than Bob McDonnell, who basically threw his wife under the bus while he was being investigated for ethics violations (which he was extremely guilty of, and later convicted for).

However, the list of potential charges in this case is way more extensive than anything that the McDonnells ever tried to pull off.

There's no way that these two don't end up in jail for a long time.
posted by schmod at 6:52 PM on February 13, 2015

I definitely intended that statement to be parsed as "the first governor to be open about not being heterosexual while in office," which I don't think really applies to McGreevey. It's also being thrown around a lot in the media, nationally.

Personally, I have mixed feelings about Brown. I appreciate having a woman getting national press who is vocal about being a bisexual woman married to a man, how that doesn't void your sexual identity. I have concerns about her history with Comcast and some of her other actions, like those mentioned by LeRoienJaune. But Kitzhaber's position was becoming untenable... attention escalating and a couple of big public blunders that made him look really guilty at a bad time. If he didn't resign, the media zoo was just going to keep getting crazier, interfering with the actual running of the government. So, Brown it is...
posted by polymath at 7:15 PM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

(Seth Wooley, for example)

Wow, I used to work with Seth. He's, um, an interesting person with lots of interesting opinions. Small world.
posted by octothorpe at 8:00 PM on February 13, 2015

I grew up in Oregon and this whole fiasco is so sad. Kitzhaber has been the governor for over one third of my life, and I probably have a rather romanticized view of him because I moved away from Oregon not long into his most recent term so I haven't been around for any of these controversies. Watching him publicly implode like this has been really, really hard.
posted by dialetheia at 8:12 PM on February 13, 2015 [11 favorites]

> I hope this isn't indicative of how she deals with political opponents.

It might be:
As caucus leader, Brown showed an aggressive ambition that separated her from other senators who aspired to statewide office.

In 2003, Oregon’s economy was then mired in recession, and Gov. Ted Kulongoski pushed for deep cuts to the Public Employees Retirement System. Few Democrats wanted to vote for the bill because that meant crossing their biggest source of financial support: organized labor.

Despite fierce opposition from unions, Brown twisted arms to secure the votes necessary to cut PERS. Then, when fellow Democrats risked their careers to vote for the bill, Brown voted against it.

It was a maneuver that preserved her union ties but infuriated colleagues, especially when unions later successfully crushed Democrats who supported the measure.

"She totally undercut people," says former Sen. Charlie Ringo (D-Beaverton).
posted by Chutzler at 8:20 PM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

Tonight's NYTimes: Gov. John Kitzhaber of Oregon Resigns Amid Crisis (Feb. 13, 2015)

What I found interesting are the comments for that article, which largely heap blame on the local media - primarily the Oregonian for biased coverage. Since I went cold turkey on NPR/OPB last year, and rarely read the Oregonian (or Willamette Week) these days, all of this has caught me by surprise. I'm interested in what other Oregonians think about the local media coverage, especially that of the Oregonian, over the past year in how it relates to the resignation.
posted by Auden at 9:42 PM on February 13, 2015

Good question. The Oregonian has been largely worthless, gutted by cutbacks. They don't even print every day any more. Arguably they're not the state's biggest paper any more -- I think the Eugene Register Guard and Portland Tribune may release more individual print newspapers every week, and they certianly do more reporting.

On this issue, the Oregonian just issued a grand statement calling for his resignation. Willamette Week did all the reporting, including the FOIA request on the 5,000 emails that caused Kitzhaber to request that state agencies delete them all, as well as all the original reporting on this story before the election.

The theory: he uses personal email accounts to conduct state business, so they were private and nobody's business. it's a well-litigated ploy that no one accepts, and led to multiple uses of the word "Nixonian." The email ploy was the last straw that caused ALL of the state's Democrats to break with Kitzhaber. Literally not a single major person was supporting him after that.

I'm surprised the press isn't running with the Valentine's Day, good man in done in by his love for a (pretty, younger) bad girl. As my wife said, "It's almost romantic." I agree though, she'll dump him quickly enough.
posted by msalt at 10:11 PM on February 13, 2015 [5 favorites]

schmod mentioned Virginia's former governor/now convicted felon Bob McDonnell.... all I can say is that we're trying, but we here in Virginia have still got a ways to go to meet the high standards of criminal activities by governors that other states can boast of!

(On the other hand, we like to think we lead the way on nutty religious leaders....)
posted by easily confused at 5:48 AM on February 14, 2015

Chutzler: "Despite fierce opposition from unions, Brown twisted arms to secure the votes necessary to cut PERS. Then, when fellow Democrats risked their careers to vote for the bill, Brown voted against it."

That's fucking nasty. And for a bill that breaks promises to public sector workers, too...
posted by notsnot at 5:59 AM on February 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

I don't think he was ever able to see the FLOO as everyone else has seen her

What does the acronym stand for?
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:39 AM on February 14, 2015

On analogy to FLOTUS, I'm assuming "First Lady of Oregon"...
posted by FlyingMonkey at 8:46 AM on February 14, 2015 [2 favorites]

Good on Willamette Week's Nigel Jaquiss for holding yet another Oregon politician accountable. The Mercury put together a timeline of the scandal that covers which reporter uncovered what, and credits Jacquiss with much of the heavy lifting. And also Hillary Borrud from Pamplin Media, which was surprising to me -- Pamplin wasn't a journalistic powerhouse when I left Oregon.

I also want to grarr at the KGW timeline a bit: There's no "the" in Willamette Week. A Portland media outlet should know that.
posted by Banknote of the year at 8:50 AM on February 14, 2015 [7 favorites]

I met governor Kitzhaber once when attending graduate school at PSU 1996. We had just read an article by his father about rhetoric, which I mentioned when my wife and I shook his hand. There's a reason I'm not in politics.
posted by mecran01 at 10:14 AM on February 14, 2015

From Willamette Week's [Ask] Dr. Know column:
"Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber and first girlfriend Cylvia Hayes: embarrassing scandal, or most embarrassing scandal ever?

How the mighty have fallen—just last August, a U.S. Department of Justice study lionized Oregon for having the fewest criminal convictions of public officials per capita in the nation. (At the time, we thought “fewest convictions” meant “everyone is honest” rather than “nobody’s getting caught.”)

Still, most embarrassing ever? Not even close. That honor probably goes to former Sen. Bob Packwood: Wince-worthy tales of Packwood drunkenly cornering women become even more tawdry when one reflects on how hard it must have been to get accused of sexual harassment by Republicans in 1992. (Packwood stepped down in 1995, retiring to K Street to massage his wounds with $100 bills.)

We’ve already mentioned Portland’s racketeering-happy 1950s (Dr. Know, WW, Nov. 7, 2012), which saw Mayor Terry Schrunk brought up on graft charges from his days as county sheriff. Jurors shrugged, and Schrunk continued as mayor for another 16 years. He was later honored with a lovely plaza.

But for sheer scale, nothing beats the Oregon land fraud scandal. After being granted 3 million acres in 1870 to build a line to California, the Oregon and California Railroad was directed to sell the adjoining land to settlers for a bargain of $2.50 an acre. This would spur development, tame the West, fulfill Manifest Destiny, etc.

Instead, the railroad hatched a scheme whereby various hobos were rounded up to impersonate settlers, buy the land, and transfer it to railroad cronies, who’d sell it to timber companies for $40 an acre. Soon, with help from corrupt officials, the hobo step could be skipped entirely.

The subsequent investigation led to more than 1,000 indictments and 35 trials, including that of longtime U.S. Sen. John H. Mitchell of Oregon. Mitchell was convicted and sentenced to six months but died while awaiting appeal. (Of a toothache, because, you know, 1905.)"
posted by blueberry at 6:19 PM on February 14, 2015 [3 favorites]

a very Oregon Valentine
posted by idiopath at 7:28 AM on February 15, 2015 [2 favorites]

Samantha Allen has an interesting piece up, on Gov. Brown and visibility for bisexual people.
. . . Brown’s assumption of state leadership in 2015 is a particularly fortuitous opportunity to keep bisexual people in the conversation surrounding LGBT equality, as the country’s focus shifts to the last two letters of that ubiquitous acronym.
Brown’s governorship comes at a surprising moment when bisexual people are much more reluctant to be out than their gay and lesbian counterparts. According to the 2009 National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, over half of all LGB people in the United States identify as bisexual. Despite this clear majority within the LGBT community, bisexual people are much less visible.
Almost half of bisexual employees are completely in the closet at work, as compared to only a quarter of gay and lesbian employees. And according to a 2013 Pew survey only 28 percent of bisexual people are out to“all or most of the important people in their life” as compared to the majority of gay men and lesbians who are out.
posted by Banknote of the year at 5:07 PM on February 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

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