After a bizarre week filled with speculation and indecision, Gov. John Kitzhaber has submitted his resignation. Secretary of State Kate Brown will succeed Kitzhaber to become the first openly bisexual governor in the United States. She will then face an election in 2016 if she wants to remain in the position. His resignation will take effect
10 am, Feb. 18.
Kitzhaber released a statement
shortly after noon Friday, one day before Oregon's 156th birthday. It reads, in part:
I am announcing today that I will resign as Governor of the State of Oregon. It is not in my nature to walk away from a job I have undertaken—it is to stand and fight for the cause. 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. I promise you that I will continue to pursue our shared goals and our common cause in another venue.
Calls for Kitzhaber's ouster began with an Oregonian editorial
and, as the chatter grew louder, the state's largest publication was followed by some of the state's top Democrats—including House Speaker Tina Kotek, Senate President Peter Courtney and State Treasurer Ted Wheeler.
HIs resignation appeared to be nigh on Tuesday, when Brown left Washington, D.C. mid-conference at the Governor's behest. But things just got weirder after she returned. Brown released the following statement on Wednesday:
Late Tuesday afternoon, I received a call from the Governor while I was in Washington, D.C. at a Secretaries of State conference. He asked me to come back to Oregon as soon as possible to speak with him in person and alone.
I got on a plane yesterday morning and arrived at 3:40 in the afternoon. I was escorted directly into a meeting with the Governor. It was a brief meeting. He asked me why I came back early from Washington, D.C., which I found strange. I asked him what he wanted to talk about. The Governor told me he was not resigning, after which, he began a discussion about transition.
This is clearly a bizarre and unprecedented situation.
I informed the Governor that I am ready, and my staff will be ready, should he resign. Right now I am focused on doing my job for the people of Oregon.
But Kitzhaber again insisted he was not resigning.
The scandal that pushed the four-term Governor out of began when the Willamette Week ran a story
claiming Kitzhaber's fiancee Cylvia Hayes used her public position and the resources of the Governor's office for personal gain. It all went downhill from there, with more allegations of impropriety surfacing as various media outlets dug in and began unearthing Hayes' past.
The Oregonian posted a timeline
of Kitzhaber and Hayes' relationship—personal and professional—starting with his efforts 2002 to provide political counsel to Hayes as she campaigned for the Oregon House of Representatives (she lost to Sen. Ben Westlund, R-Bend).
Are you surprised? Do you think the Governor made the right decision?