Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber said Wednesday that he would not step down, seeking to put to rest questions about his future that had swirled since earlier in the day when his would-be successor abruptly cut short a trip to Washington and headed home.
"Let me be as clear as I was last week, that I have no intention of resigning as governor of the state of Oregon," Kitzhaber said in a statement.
"I was elected to do a job for the people of this great state and I intend to continue to do so."
The Democratic governor's 36-year political career has been threatened for months by allegations involving his fiancee, Cylvia Hayes. She has been accused of falsifying tax forms and accepting consulting fees to influence her future husband. The state Ethics Commission and the state attorney general have launched investigations.
Kitzhaber has insisted all along that he had no plans to put a premature end to his fourth term at Oregon’s helm, but Secretary of State Kate Brown’s return Wednesday had resurrected talk of his departure.
Earlier Wednesday, Brown spokesman Tony Green confirmed that Brown, the state’s second-ranking official, had left a National Assn. of Secretaries of State conference two days early. He said he did not know why Brown changed plans.
Kitzhaber was reelected in November after 11th-hour revelations that Hayes had entered a fraudulent green-card marriage in 1997, receiving $5,000 to wed an Ethiopian national so that he could stay in the country.
A week ago, the Oregonian, the state’s largest newspaper, called for Kitzhaber to step down.
“More ugliness may surface,” it declared on Feb. 4, “but it should be clear by now to Kitzhaber that his credibility has evaporated to such a degree that he can no longer serve effectively as governor.”
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