Oregon governor resigns amid scandal
© Getty Images

Oregon Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber will resign effective next week amid a bizarre scandal involving political activities by his fiancee, he announced in a press release on his website.

"It is not in my nature to walk away from a job I have undertaken — it is to stand and fight for the cause," he said.

ADVERTISEMENT

"For that reason I apologize to all those people who gave of their faith, time, energy and resources to elect me to a fourth term last year and who have supported me over the past three decades."

With his resignation, Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown (D) will become governor. Brown will be the first openly bisexual governor in U.S. history.  

Kitzhaber's announcement marks the end of a week that saw two top Oregon Democrats call for his resignation and Brown flying back from Washington, D.C., when it appeared the governor was close to resigning.

The governor is the subject of a corruption investigation about his fiancee's influence on his administration.

Last year, it was revealed that Oregon first lady Cylvia Hayes was maintaining a consulting business at the same time she was taking an active role in Kitzhaber’s administration. Still, Kitzhaber was reelected by a 5-point margin in November.

The ethical questions plaguing Kitzhaber’s administration didn’t dissipate in the months after the election, and as more questions were raised, the state attorney general said she had opened a criminal investigation into the allegations against the governor.

The governor’s statement lashed out at those who he believes jumped to conclusions to assert his guilt.

“It is deeply troubling to me to realize that we have come to a place in the history of this great state of ours where a person can be charged, tried, convicted and sentenced by the media with no due process and no independent verification of the allegations involved,” he said in the statement.

“Nonetheless, I understand that I have become a liability to the very institutions and policies to which I have dedicated my career and, indeed, my entire adult life.” 

The executive director of the Democratic Governors Association, Elisabeth Pearson, praised the move in a statement.

"Governor Kitzhaber made the right decision to step down today," she said. "Secretary of State Kate Brown has a long record of making government more accountable to Oregonians and we know she’ll continue moving the state forward.

"We’re fully confident that the governor’s mansion in Oregon will remain in Democratic hands in 2016,” she said. 


—This post was updated at 4:00 p.m.