The Corner

Environmental Scandal Engulfs Oregon Governor, Where Is National Media?

John Kitzhaber, the Democratic governor of Oregon was sworn into his fourth term of office just last month. But it seems highly unlikely he will be able to survive this month in office.

Last October, the Willamette Weekly newspaper published an exposé showing how the governor’s fiancé, Cylvia Hayes, was taking money as a private consultant to environment groups and then pushing their policies in her public role as “First Lady” of the state. Most infamously, she ordered state employees to follow a policy she was being paid $25,000 by an advocacy group to promote. Apparently, some of the money also wasn’t reported on tax returns.

Kitzhaber’s response to the scandal has been egregious. The Willamette Week reported that his “office last week requested state officials destroy thousands of records in the governor’s personal email accounts.” Indeed, the governor’s executive assistant actually ordered all of his personal e-mail accounts to be removed from state servers.

Such revelations have prompted Oregon senate president Peter Courtney and house majority leader Tina Kotek, both Democrats, to meet with Kitzhaber and urge him to resign. Secretary of State Kate Brown, who would take over the governor’s office in the event of a resignation, says she was ordered to return from Washington, D.C. on Wednesday for an urgent private meeting with Kitzhaber. Once she arrived, she was informed that he was not resigning but that he wanted to discuss a possible transition. Brown called the situation “bizarre and unprecedented.”

The Atlantic magazine actually had the honesty to report on why the scandal will be swept under the rug: “It’s hard to imagine this scandal wouldn’t be larger national news if it was happening on the East Coast, closer to the media magnets of New York and Washington, or if it were happening to a Republican governor — just ask Chris Christie or Mark Sanford or Bob McDonnell.” Another reason for the silence of the national media? The sleazy involvement of environmental groups such as the George Soros–funded Energy Foundation in corrupting government policy is certainly an inconvenient fact for many liberal journalists. Don’t expect a lot of follow-up stories on whether such groups are involved in similar efforts in other states.

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