Friday, February 13, 2015

John Kitzhaber, Oregon's governor... maybe for awhile longer... or not

Last night, I went to bed thinking about the latest scandal involving a governor-- this time mine. Being a Democrat, although a rather moderate one, I favored John Kitzhaber all four times he ran for governor. I was pleased when he came back from his first two terms to run again. We donated to his campaign. Although he is a liberal, he also stood up to the unions in an attempt to balance Oregon's budget. I think tried to balance right and left agendas...

First time he ran for governor, he married a woman who he then had a son with. She seemed delightful, business woman, attractive and bright.

The divorce as soon as he finished his second term came as a shock. It would not have had we known him better. In 2002, he had met a woman at a conference. After his divorce, he began openly dating her. The woman was 20 years younger, beautiful, intelligent, had her own business in Bend. No big surprise he was attracted to her.

When he ran for governor in 2010, after the last Democrat finished his two terms, he had this woman at his side but they weren't married. They have yet to marry. She is quite a number in every way someone can imagine-- good and bad. this article on Bloomberg pretty well lays out the current situation-- as much as any can right now

The story of her past made the news right before the elections in November. Would it have turned the election if the right hadn't put up such an extremist? Hard to say, but Kitzhaber won handily-- kind of reminding me of Clinton after his scandal broke.

Oregonians like Kitzhaber for his independence and cowboy ways. He talks of fishing on the Umpqua where he had a home at one time, not sure about now. He is someone a person can like for his love of nature, as well as agree with their political stances.

The woman he is with has evidently been quite a grifter, who didn't give up her ways when she got him to run for governor again and used his position to bag big contracts for her business. The hysteria is building in Oregon to try to force Kitzhaber to resign. Others are talking recalls which cannot happen until the summer, if at all, given he was just re-elected for a fourth term based on his positions and character...

Recently, the Willamette Week has gone after him with one after another articles, which indicate she got big bucks with the belief she would influence him in their favor. What we don't know is if she did. We know she got the money but not what he did for it. Did he then give contracts that rewarded those who attempted to influence her? If he did, there are several other governors who got in big trouble for that kind of thing. I would honestly have never believed he'd be one of them. Other than being a foolish old man, bewitched by a smooth talking, beautiful woman twenty years younger than him, what else did he do that deserves his being kicked out of office-- and the Secretary of State, who is more liberal than he is, taking the seat for what is almost a full term?

Despite what some say, the rumors were out there before the election.  The 2014 alternative offered by Republicans was so abominable that Kitzhaber would have been elected anyway whether others had heard the rumors or not.

In January, Kitzhaber should have brought in a special prosecutor given that the Attorney General has her own conflict of interest regarding her husband, and the Secretary of State has plenty to gain by his resigning. The Democrats may well like having a far more liberal governor.

But if he did something for the money she got, then he likely will have a criminal consequence ahead and his troubles won't just involve staying as governor. Think Bob O'Donnell and the Chicago rep who is in prison right now.

The voters who want him out are mostly right wingers who never wanted him in. The Dems in the Oregon legislature maybe think they can get through more of their liberal agenda with Brown.

I, being a moderate, am not happy about this; but it isn't just who will be our governor. Even more, it's how can a man destroy his life for a woman who manipulates and has no clear set of ethics-- beautiful or speaking nicely or not. We know for a fact she did take the money, intended frankly to peddle influence or bribe. We know she didn't file all the fees in her income tax. We know her background. There is only one thing we don't know.

Did he actually let her dictate his policies? If there is quid pro quo on this, the Willamette Week will be bringing it out. The interesting connection to how they might be getting that info could go back to who our Attorney General, Ellen Rosenblum, is married to-- Richard Meeker, the publisher and co-owner of the Willamette Week. Does the plot thicken and is their pillow talk quite interesting these days?

I know ours was last night as we thought through all we have been hearing and some of the dumb things our supposedly smart governor has done-- like firing staff who told him what she was up to. Nothing like how love can blind-- despite what he recently said. Worse, for him, is the likelihood that if he loses the governorship, maybe even does time in jail if he really did let his influence be bought, she won't stick with him. She has always been out for herself-- from her history from before him and her activities as Oregon's first lady-- kind of.

It's a very sad story. 

Update: With Kitzhaber's resignation, I was doing more research into his life and what got him where he is today. This was interesting as the economic situation in which he finds himself John Kitzhaber and finance.  If true, it might explain some of what went down. Not a good place to be at 67. While some politicians make a lot of money off their office, others really don't get much. He could, of course, have sold that home and lived in Mahonia Hall, the governor's mansion in Salem. It's a huge house and not one that I'd find particularly inviting. 

I wonder if our new governor will decide to move there. She has an iffy situation ahead too as she has to immediately start campaigning to keep her job if she wants to anyway. In 2016, Oregon law requires she run to fill the last two years of the term he just won. 

As the first openly bi-sexual governor, Brown has some who will immediately be eager to see her do well-- and some who are suspicious of those who aren't easy to pin down for gender.

Brown also has a political history which may mean trouble ahead. When Oregon was dealing with the PERS (public employee pension) problem in terms of its budget, she worked to get a bill out that would rein back on what PERS will cost. When it was voted on, after she got other Democrats to vote for it, she voted against it. That doesn't leave a good feeling and leads to the question of how much can she be trusted when power is at stake. Maybe she had a good reason to turn on the bill-- as in it wasn't what she had wanted; but it does leave a question. Elsewhere I read she has a problem ethically with taking money from Comcast to support the merger with Times Warner... 

Interesting times. Sad ones too. I like our governor and feel badly it has ended this way for him politically speaking. I hope he does well now and somehow can make a good life for himself--however he now chooses to do it. One expert last night said he doesn't think Kitzhaber will end up with jail time because of how Oregon law leaves a lot of leeway, but for Hayes, that is less certain.


MandT said...

Good Reporting Rain. What a sad business.Kitzhaber is a fine man, whose excellent governing in the past did much good for Oregon. His downfall has a whiff of tragedy about it.

Rain Trueax said...

Thanks. It really is a tragedy. :( I just hope he and she too can pull themselves out of it. It's why I like writing romantic fiction-- real life can break your heart

Ingineer66 said...

So your Governor Brown is Bisexual. Many have said that our Governor Brown is bisexual. Interesting. 😃

Rain Trueax said...

I find it a little confusing with our governor, Brown as she is also married. She does not though have kids. Her husband does and they are mostly grown or grown. I am not sure why she said she was bi-sexual unless she had had a long-term relationship before this one with a woman.

I am though more concerned with her political views and guess that will show up soon as the new session of the legislature is starting

Ingineer66 said...

Exactly. Hopefully she does a decent job leading the state. Politicians for years have had odd sexual tastes. For once we have a politician that isn't trying to keep it a secret.

Rain Trueax said...

The stories about Kitzhaber aren't going to quit even though the facts are still limited to speculation. New York Times weighs in. If she had registered as a lobbyist, given they weren't married, likely this wouldn't even be discussed.

I should add that I didn't like what happened to Bob McDonnell in Virginia either. Our laws on all of this are so vague that they just wait to snare a politician in them. Some get gifts of trips and more with no consequence and others are in jail for the same thing. We should make it all a lot clearer as this way it lets the law pounce on the politician at random.