Tags: John Kitzhaber | Oregon | governor | resign | Cylvia Hayes | fiance | influence

Politico: Disgraced Oregon Gov. Is 'Poster Child' for Crony Capitalism

By    |   Wednesday, 18 Feb 2015 08:20 PM

For years, conservatives have opposed federal and state government efforts to subsidize green energy producers as "crony capitalism."

In now-former Oregon Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber — who announced his resignation last week following a scandal involving green-energy-related contracts obtained by his fiancée — "they may now have their poster child" for what's wrong, according to Politico.

Kitzhaber's political demise stemming from conflict-of-interest allegations over his first lady’s consulting contracts "hands conservatives on and off Capitol Hill ammunition to use against billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer, green nonprofit groups and national Democrats advocating clean energy," the website said.

Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe called the scandal "just another example of environmental activist groups attempting to influence policy under a veil of secrecy, and one more reason these groups merit additional scrutiny."

Beneath "the violation of public trust by the Oregon state officials, we have far-left foundations funneling significant funds to an environmental group to orchestrate this type of activism without any public disclosure," the Oklahoma Republican said.

Louisiana Republican Sen. David Vitter said the Kitzhaber case is connected to "a well-funded, highly developed far-left environmental network in place to influence environmental public policy."

For weeks, Democrats in Oregon tried to distance themselves from Kitzhaber, whose fiancée, Cylvia Hayes, earned at least $213,000 on contracts connected to her work in the Kitzhaber Administration, where she was an unpaid adviser.

Most of the contracts "were related to clean energy, a major priority in the governor’s administration," Politico noted.

The Oregonian and other local media outlets reported that before publicly endorsing a state investigation into Hayes' activities, Kitzhaber had intervened in an effort to block it.

Oregon's Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum has an open criminal investigation into the Kitzhaber Administration’s actions, and federal authorities have issued a criminal subpoena for information about Hayes’ contracts.

Kitzhaber, who left office Wednesday, was beginning his fourth term as governor.

Conservatives, Politico said, say events in Oregon show that "wealthy environmentalists are not above the same tactics they savage conservatives for using."

The Energy Foundation was one of two nonprofits that paid for a $118,000 fellowship for Hayes, who failed to publicly disclose that income until questioned by Oregon media. The foundation received a $500,000 grant approved from Steyer’s TomKat Charitable Trust in 2012.

"I don’t object to Steyer spending his money trying to persuade people; I object to the hypocrisy," GOP energy lobbyist Michael McKenna told Politico. "Whether it’s criminal or not, it all smells pretty bad, and it’s a rebuke to everybody who says our side’s different from the other side."

Green-energy projects are "so heavily dependent on government intervention and involvement," said Tom Pyle, president of the American Energy Alliance, a nonprofit group which supports fossil fuels.

"It's beyond cronyism – bordering on corruption," added Pyle, a former Koch Industries lobbyist.

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For years, conservatives have opposed federal and state government efforts to subsidize green energy producers as crony capitalism. In now-former Oregon Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber - who announced his resignation last week following a scandal involving...
John Kitzhaber, Oregon, governor, resign, Cylvia Hayes, fiance, influence, energy, contracts
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Wednesday, 18 Feb 2015 08:20 PM
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