Though there are many calls for Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber to resign, it’s believed to be unlikely he will do so. Democratic leaders in the Oregon legislature fear the ethical questions surrounding the 67-year-old Governor could distract legislators from important policy and budget work. Lawmakers calling for Kitzhaber to resign wrote he is “now less a governor than a source of unending distraction.”
As the Inquisitr previously reported, many groups have been calling for Governor Kitzhaber to resign over allegations his fiancé, environmental consultant Cylvia Hayes, “falsified tax records and collected consulting fees for personal and monetary gain.” Many are determined for Governor Kitzhaber to resign.
In an emailed statement, Governor Kitzhaber announced he has no plans to resign though there are calls for him to do just that, writing, “I was elected to serve the citizens of the state of Oregon and I intend to continue to do so.”
Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, wrote a statement Thursday underscoring his hopes that legislators won’t allow the scandal to get in the way of getting things done such as working on the state’s transportation needs, school funding, and balancing the budget.
“The governor is facing serious challenges and he’s hurting. I want to be fair. I want to be compassionate. I want to do my job the best I can. I will not speculate on his future. As legislators we need to stay focused on providing money for our schools, taking care of our seniors, tending to our state’s transportation needs and balancing our budget. We have a lot to do and we need to get it done before July. We can’t let anything distract us.”
House Speaker Tina Kotek, D-Portland, also issued a statement regarding the importance of lawmakers focusing on the tasks at hand and continuing to do their job while the Ethics Commission investigates the allegations.
“This session is off to a productive start. As the Oregon Government Ethics Commission does its job, we must remain focused on our job as legislators, which is to serve Oregonians by advancing policies that improve people’s lives and strengthen our state.”
According to the Daily Astorian, only four Oregon Governors have resigned in the state’s 155-year history for “mundane resasons.” The scandal facing Kitzhaber and calls for him to resign are “unprecedented for a sitting governor in Oregon.”
This does not mean, however, that there haven’t been scandals surrounding former Oregon governors. Neil Goldschmidt, a former Oregon Governor, was discovered to have sexually abused a teenage girl while he was the mayor of Portland. The discovery was made over a decade after he was out of office.
Political consultant Len Bergstein of Northwest Strategies believes Governor Kitzhaber’s reputation has already suffered a major blow.
“I do think he is significantly damaged. It’s not a knock out. But if his allies are expecting him to move mountains in this first week [of the legislature], he probably won’t be able to do that,” Bergstein said.
According to experts, Governor Kitzhaber is now “radioactive” from the scandal, reports GoLocal PDX. Experts also believe the Governor will “make fewer public appearances, have fewer photo opportunities and testify before committees less.”
Do you think Governor John Kitzhaber will change his mind and succumb to the calls to resign?
[Image via Don Ryan/AP]