Tags: oregon | governor | john kitzhaber | fiancee | married

Oregon Gov.'s Fiancee Secretly Married Immigrant

By    |   Thursday, 09 October 2014 07:27 PM

Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber just found out his fiancée, the state's first lady, was secretly married to an immigrant 11 years her junior.

Kitzhaber, 67, himself has been married twice before, and he thought first lady Cylvia Hayes had as well. But he found out about her secret third marriage Tuesday, Hayes told Willamette Week.

Hayes, now 47, married Abraham B. Abraham on July 19, 1997, just shy of her 30th birthday. Abraham, who was 18 and listed himself as a native of Ethiopia, had just finished his freshman year of college.

They divorced without using lawyers in October 2001, and Willamette Week said records indicate they never lived together.

Abraham was a student at Greensboro College in North Carolina. School records show he listed his address as the Seattle suburb of Montlake Terrace, Washington. On their marriage certificate, Hayes said she lived in Renton, Washington, another Seattle suburb, the website reported.

That same summer she moved to Bend, Oregon, by herself, and told The Oregonian in a 2011 interview she lived in her car on land owned by the federal Bureau of Land Management.

She obtained an Oregon driver's license in 1999, but records don't show Abraham ever having lived in Oregon.

Willamette Week said many people who know Hayes were unaware of her third marriage, including her second husband, Douglas McCarthy.

"I didn’t even know she got married again," McCarthy told the website. "That’s news to me."

McCarthy and Hayes divorced just three months before her marriage to Abraham.

The website said the circumstances of the marriage raise questions of whether it was intended to help Abraham gain immigration status. One pathway to citizenship is to be "living in marital union" for at least three years.

Portland immigration lawyer Tilman Hasche told the website it is a federal crime for an American citizen to marry an immigrant for the "overriding and exclusive reason" of obtaining citizenship. To do so would be a federal crime for both parties, even if the citizen were not paid to enter into the marriage.

Abraham didn't respond to interview requests.

Earlier this week, Willamette Week reported that Hayes' activities as first lady could raise ethics concerns because she serves as an unpaid policy adviser on green energy and economic development to the governor while continuing her outside career as a private consultant for the same causes.

Kitzhaber, a Democrat, faces re-election on Nov. 4, and is leading Republican state Rep. Dennis Richardson by an average of 9.4 percentage points, USA Today reports. 

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Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber just found out his fiancée, the state's first lady, was secretly married to an immigrant 11 years her junior.
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Thursday, 09 October 2014 07:27 PM
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