PORTLAND, Ore. (CN) – Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber resigned Friday, amid allegations that he and First Lady Cylvia Hayes used state contacts to benefit her consulting firm and set policies that benefited her clients.
Kitzhaber said he will leave office at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 18.
Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown, a Democrat like Kitzhaber, will become governor on Wednesday. She will serve until 2016, when voters will decide who will complete the final two years of Kitzhaber’s fourth term.
Kitzhaber claimed innocence in a statement Friday and blamed his resignation on the “the escalating media frenzy” after fellow Democrats roundly called for him to step down.
“I am confident that I have not broken any laws,” Kitzhaber said.
Hayes is CEO of her consulting firm, 3E Strategies, and also the governor’s adviser on clean energy and economic development.
She acknowledged that she accepted $100,000 for consulting services during Kitzhaber’s term in office – income that she allegedly did not list on her tax return.
The governor and Hayes file separate tax returns. They share a household and are engaged to be married.
Kitzhaber let Hayes push the agendas of her consulting clients during state meetings and in memos, according to emails released by the Oregon Department of Administrative Services.
Kitzhaber’s executive assistant, Jan Murdock, asked state officials to destroy thousands of the governor’s personal emails, according to records obtained by the Willamette Week.
Kitzhaber said he will cooperate with an investigation by the state Ethics Commission and the attorney general. Kitzhaber, 67, has been in politics since he was 31.
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