John Kitzhaber Resigns: Oregon Governor Quits Over Conflict-of-Interest Scandal

John Kitzhaber quits; a day-to-day look at how he got here.

ByABC News
February 13, 2015, 3:57 PM

— -- Saying he has become a “liability” to his state, Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber announced his resignation today.

The decision comes after his resisting calls to do so for weeks from top state Democrats, editorial pages and petition-writers, in light of a conflict-of-interest scandal involving plum jobs his fiancee, Cylvia Hayes, got with groups who had business before the state, while she also worked as an unpaid adviser to him on energy and economic development.

Earlier today, Kitzhaber was nowhere to be seen. Here’s a rundown of events that led to his stepping down.

By today, he was nowhere to be seen. Here’s a rundown of events from the past week:

THURSDAY, FEB. 5: The Oregonian newspaper’s editorial page calls for Kitzhaber to resign, saying, “He can no longer lead Oregon effectively and should resign. His constituents deserve better.”

Kitzhaber had defiantly insisted the week before he would not step down and denied there was any conflict of interest in Hayes’ various jobs: “We tried to separate her volunteer work as first lady from her paid work,” he said.

FRIDAY, FEB. 6: Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum opens a criminal investigation into Kitzhaber and Hayes, saying in a statement the allegations about the way Kitzhaber handled Hayes’ contracts are “very serious, and troubling.”

MONDAY: Kitzhaber sends a letter to Rosenblum, asking her to open a “full and independent factual review” of the issues surrounding him and Hayes. She tells him she has already opened the investigation.

TUESDAY: Kitzhaber calls Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown, visiting Washington, D.C., for a conference, asking her to “come back to Oregon as soon as possible to speak with him in person and alone,” Brown said. Kitzhaber also meets with Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney, a meeting Courtney later says he left feeling certain the governor was going to resign.

WEDNESDAY: Brown returns to Oregon, which raises eyebrows among political observers because the Secretary of State is the second-in-line for the governorship. Brown says she met with Kitzhaber briefly, and that he asked her why she came back early from D.C., although he asked her to do so, which she said she found “strange.”

Kitzhaber tells Brown he does not want to resign but “began a discussion about transition,” according to Brown.

Later in the day, Kitzhaber releases a statement: “Let me be as clear as I was last week, that I have no intention of resigning as Governor of the state of Oregon. I was elected to do a job for the people of this great state and I intend to continue to do so.”

THURSDAY: The Oregonian reports that Kitzhaber had, indeed, intended to resign Tuesday but changed his mind by Wednesday after meeting with McDermott and Hayes. Kitzhaber meets with Courtney and House Speaker Tina Kotek. At a news conference after the meeting, Courtney and Kotek call Kitzhaber “upset,” “defiant” and “struggling.” “This thing is evolving by the second,” Courtney says.

Rosenblum, the attorney general, rules that Hayes must release emails from her personal accounts pertaining to government business. Hayes had claimed she is an honorary first lady and is not compelled to produce emails, and that she held no formal government position and had no government authority, the Oregonian wrote.

TODAY: The Oregonian reports Kitzhaber’s whereabouts are not publicly known, and that the governor had “vanished from public view" before he said he would resign.

The governor’s office did not respond to an ABC News request for comment.