Oregon ethics panel rejects settlement with ex-first lady

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — State ethics commissioners have unanimously rejected a proposed settlement with ex-First Lady Cylvia Hayes.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reports Hayes had agreed in January to a $44,000 fine for breaking ethics laws 22 times. But the settlement needed final approval from the Oregon Government Ethics Commission. Commissioner Dan Mason says the settlement was rejected Thursday.

Hayes did not attend the commission’s meeting, and her absence was a factor in the vote against the settlement. Mayson says commissioners “felt offended” Hayes did not appear in person.

Ethics investigators concluded last year that Hayes abused her access to Gov. John Kitzhaber, her longtime fiancé, to land consulting work that paid more than $200,000.

Federal and state prosecutors in 2017 declined to seek criminal charges against Hayes and Kitzhaber. But the couple’s actions sparked an influence peddling scandal that led to Kitzhaber’s resignation at the dawn of his fourth term and Hayes’ bankruptcy.