An Oregon Republican said she had proposed legislation to empower lawmakers to ask the attorney general to investigate the governor's office for alleged wrongdoing, a day before the state's top elected official is set to resign in a scandal.
Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber has been dogged for months by allegations of a possible conflict of interest between fiancee Cylvia Hayes' role as an unpaid gubernatorial adviser and her consulting business contracts.
Kitzhaber announced his resignation on Friday and Secretary of State Kate Brown, a Democrat, is to take up the job on Wednesday.
"The deck's sort of stacked for the governor," said House of Representatives Republican Julie Parrish, who drafted the bills in collaboration with other Republicans.
Under Oregon law, the governor alone can ask the state's attorney general to investigate the state's top elected office, which Kitzhaber himself did as he faced allegations that Hayes used her role in his office for personal gain. The governor also appoints the members of the state's ethics commission.
Parrish would change that in a draft bill she introduced on Monday, with others to be proposed in coming days.
Oregon is also the only U.S. state that lacks a gubernatorial impeachment process, according to the National Governors' Association, though this is not the subject of Parrish's proposals.
Parrish hopes to seize upon the resignation of one of the highest-profile Democrats in Oregon history to push forward her proposals, which she says would improve campaign finance transparency and access to public records, among other things.
Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said Kitzhaber's resignation would not affect an ongoing criminal corruption probe. The U.S. attorney for Oregon has filed subpoenas seeking records related to potential conflicts of interest concerning Kitzhaber, his office, Hayes, and more than a dozen state officials and agencies.
Secretary of State Kate Brown, a Democrat from Portland, a liberal bastion, has touted her own work to create an online database for campaign donations.
Separately, the state's attorney general said last week that Hayes, as a public official, must turn over by Thursday any emails requested by the Oregonian newspaper that relate to state business.
The Attorney General's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
© 2021 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.