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Green trifecta: Green-card sham marriage, weed grow house, and “climate change” ethical jams

October 15, 2014

Cylvia Hayes is the busy green bee of the Oregon state house:

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Marriage No. 4 in the works for Hayes, 47, and marriage No. 3 for Kitzhaber, 67

Oregon’s first lady has admitted to taking part in a plan to illegally grow marijuana on a property more than a decade ago.

Gov. John Kitzhaber’s fiancée, Cylvia Hayes, acknowledged her role in the joint purchase of property in Washington state in 1997, which she and another man intended to use to grow marijuana, KOIN-TV reported on Monday evening. The purchase came four months after she was paid $5,000 to enter into an illegal marriage to an Ethiopian man to allow him to stay in the U.S., something she apologized for at a tearful press conference last week.

Hayes and another man purchased the property in November 1997 for $245,000 but stopped making payments on it in April 1998. Patrick Siemion, who sold the couple the property, said the pair “had been growing marijuana” and that it was “obvious” they had bought the property for that purpose.

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Hayes said that the money she received from her illegal marriage went toward purchasing a laptop and paying for school, and not to paying for the property in Washington.
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Kitzhaber announced his engagement to Hayes, Oregon’s official first lady since 2011, in August. The governor is seeking a fourth term against Republican Dennis Richardson.

Hayes’s troubles over the marriage fraud and the grow house are nothing (the former is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000, but the five-year statute of limitations for prosecution has long since run) compared to a complex network of seeming ethical conflicts reported by the Willamette Weekly over her joint roles as self-described alternative-engery guru for her fiance and head of an environmental consulting firm, 3E Strategies, whose clients have won contracts with the state of Oregon:

Since Gov. John Kitzhaber took office in January 2011, Hayes, 47, has played a central role in his administration. She keeps a desk in the governor’s office, attends senior staff meetings and communicates regularly with agency directors.

She travels on trade missions to Asia and Europe not just as the governor’s partner, but as an important player conferring with other leaders. The bio she provided to the National Governors Association highlights her role as a “policy adviser to Gov. John Kitzhaber on the issue of clean energy and economic development.”

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As a public official, records show, Hayes has pushed for economic and energy policies while accepting payments from private advocacy groups seeking to influence those same policies.

In addition, Hayes has regularly directed her state-paid assistant to do work for her private consulting business. And she has used her title as first lady and as adviser to the governor at events when she was not representing the state but instead appearing as a paid consultant.

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For example, Hayes last year spoke at a Maryland conference on sustainable economic development. She was billed as first lady of Oregon, even though she was appearing as part of a contract she had received from the conference’s sponsor, a New York advocacy group called Demos.

Records show Hayes last year signed new consulting contracts worth at least $85,000 for work that overlapped with her work in the governor’s office.

That’s more than three times the income Hayes reported on the 2012 tax return,

Hayes does not draw a state paycheck. But Kitzhaber’s general counsel, Liani Reeves, told WW in August that under Oregon law, Hayes is considered a public official. That means her actions as first lady and as an adviser to Kitzhaber are governed by state ethics laws.

Hayes also has continued her outside work as a private consultant on energy and economic issues. Like the spouses and partners of other elected officials, she is pursuing her own career.

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As a public official, records show, Hayes has pushed for economic and energy policies while accepting payments from private advocacy groups seeking to influence those same policies.

In addition, Hayes has regularly directed her state-paid assistant to do work for her private consulting business. And she has used her title as first lady and as adviser to the governor at events when she was not representing the state but instead appearing as a paid consultant.

For example, Hayes last year spoke at a Maryland conference on sustainable economic development. She was billed as first lady of Oregon, even though she was appearing as part of a contract she had received from the conference’s sponsor, a New York advocacy group called Demos.

Records show Hayes last year signed new consulting contracts worth at least $85,000 for work that overlapped with her work in the governor’s office.

That’s more than three times the income Hayes reported on the 2012 tax return….

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One of her business deals created a big political problem for Kitzhaber in 2010, when he was running for governor after eight years out of politics and facing a strong challenge from Republican Chris Dudley.

In 2009, Hayes’ firm competed for a consulting contract given out by the Oregon Department of Energy. Her firm came in last in the rankings. State officials, aware of her relationship with Kitzhaber, guaranteed her firm got some of the work anyway.

The deal triggered a criminal investigation by the Oregon Department of Justice in the middle of Kitzhaber’s campaign against Dudley. Hayes was never accused of wrongdoing. But the investigation, which finished after Kitzhaber took office, found state officials had steered a $60,000 contract to Hayes’ firm.

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In 2011, Kitzhaber named Hayes to a seven-member team charged with writing his 10-year energy plan, which his administration touted as a path toward Oregon’s energy independence. Hayes also gave speeches as first lady and policy adviser about energy issues.

She also continued her consulting work.

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State disclosure forms Hayes filed in 2012 show she signed a new contract with Waste to Energy Group, a for-profit California firm. The company hired Hayes in July 2011 to help secure a contract to convert methane from a Bend landfill into energy. (Kitzhaber’s energy plan, which was still being written at that time, would later emphasize the importance of alternative fuels.)

In her statement to WW, Hayes also denied ever using publicly paid staff to assist her private consulting business.

That’s also not true.

In a July 20, 2011, email obtained by WW under a public records request, Hayes directed her state-paid assistant, Mary Rowinski, to schedule time with Waste to Energy executives. Hayes’ client wanted a meeting July 25, 2011. “Please add to Google calendar,” Hayes wrote to Rowinski.

That was a small request. But state law is clear: Public officials cannot use taxpayer resources for their private business. Over time, according to people familiar with Hayes’ schedule, she routinely directed Rowinski to book hotels and make plane reservations for her private consulting work.

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In 2013, the size of Hayes’ private consulting contracts increased. One new client was Resource Media, a Seattle nonprofit that promotes sustainability.

In March 2012, Resource Media reached out to Kitzhaber’s office to promote an initiative called the Pacific Coast Collaborative Action Plan on Climate and Energy, a joint venture among California, Washington, Oregon, Alaska and British Columbia.

Sources say Hayes was directly involved in this initiative in her public role as adviser to the governor. In March 2013, she assumed a private role as well, signing a $20,611 consulting contract with Resource Media.

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Resource Media arranged for Hayes to speak at a May 3, 2013, conference on ocean acidification at the University of California, Irvine. The conference program called her a “clean economy expert and first lady of Oregon.” There was no disclosure she was being paid by Resource Media.

Hayes provided the same bio for another Resource Media event. Sources say Rowinski booked Hayes’ travel for the event, a June 5, 2013, panel called “A Focus on Coastal Communities: Local Responses to Global Challenges” at the Capitol Hill Ocean Week conference in Washington, D.C.

Energy Foundation is a San Francisco nonprofit that encourages governments to address climate change.

In her public role as a Kitzhaber adviser, Hayes worked with Energy Foundation. Along with the governor, she spoke at a Jan. 13, 2012, Energy Foundation event in Seattle called the West Coast Clean Economy alignment.

A year later, Hayes pitched Energy Foundation to hire her as a private consultant.

On Jan. 3, 2013, Hayes sent an email to Katie McCormack, the group’s Western region program director.

“I would like to talk to you about the 2013 work and getting it funded,” Hayes wrote to McCormack. “Do you have some time in the next week or so?”

In May 2013, Hayes signed a $40,000 contract with Energy Foundation.

Then there was that trip to Bhutan:

In April 2013, the Oregon Legislature was wrestling with cuts to the Public Employees Retirement System, possible tax increases and a contentious debate over the Columbia River Crossing project.

In the middle of this, Kitzhaber and Hayes flew to a conference called Global Well-being and Gross National Happiness Lab in the Himalayan nation of Bhutan.

Paid for by the German government, the trip was controversial. Critics said Kitzhaber should not have traveled while lawmakers were struggling with important issues.

What the public hasn’t been told is that Hayes used the trip to help land another consulting contract.

In her public-official role as adviser to the governor, Hayes had been working with an organization called Demos, which promotes a new method of measuring economic output called the Genuine Progress Indicator.

In April 2012, Kitzhaber and Hayes attended a Portland State University session on the topic, and later that year appeared at a Demos conference in Maryland.

Lew Daly, director of policy and research for Demos, met with Hayes and Kitzhaber in Bhutan. Shortly afterward, Hayes landed a $25,000 contract with Demos.

Daly acknowledges he met with Hayes in Bhutan, but it had nothing to do with her hiring.

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While on contract to Demos, Hayes attended conferences and delivered speeches across the country. She was introduced not as a paid consultant to Demos but as Oregon’s first lady. The work included a trip to Baltimore, where she moderated a Demos panel that featured Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and Columbia University professor Jeffrey Sachs.

By the summer of 2013, Hayes’ private work was raising concerns inside Kitzhaber’s office—which was delicate given that she was the governor’s partner. During a speech she gave at PSU last April, Hayes acknowledged as much.

“A couple of years ago, I was having a tense conversation with a couple of John’s—aka, the governor’s—senior staff,” Hayes told her audience. “We were having a conversation about how I would contribute to these issues while being in this awkward and bizarre role of first lady. I was feeling very thwarted by that. I was getting some pushback from the guys, and one of the them said, ‘You know, when you work for the governor…’ And I said, ‘I don’t work for the governor, I work for the earth.’”

And “the earth” was paying its employee pretty well:

…Hayes published an article in the September/October 2013 edition of the journal Aquaculture North America titled “Pacific Coast shellfish industry is canary in coal mine.” In the article, she warned about ocean acidification, an issue she had been hired by Resource Media to publicize.

Hayes’ bio for the article described her as CEO of 3E Strategies, “first lady of Oregon” and “policy advisor to the governor on the issues of clean energy and economic development.”

The following month she penned an article for the Huffington Post, promoting the Pacific Coast Action Plan on Climate and Energy. That’s the carbon-reduction effort by West Coast states and British Columbia, promoted by Resource Media.

In the Huffington Post article, Hayes identified herself as “first lady of Oregon; founder/CEO, 3EStrategies” and made no mention that she was paid by Resource Media.

Hayes also continued to mix her role as adviser to the governor and consultant to Demos.

In October 2013, Hayes circulated a draft pitch to state officials. She was seeking $100,000 in foundation funding for a project to be led by her and Demos, that would create an Oregon Genuine Progress Indicator. Matt Shelby, a spokesman for the state Department of Administrative Services, says the pitch did not get grant funding, but the state did hire a staff person to develop an Oregon GPI.

But, hey, it’s all for a good cause: saving the planet:

In speeches, Hayes has made clear that she sees Kitzhaber and herself not only as life partners, but as partners in working on big problems such as climate change that Washington, D.C., won’t address.

“Our federal government is off the rails,” she said in an August 2013 speech in Vermont. “This is one of the biggest reasons that John decided to run for governor and I decided to jump into this bizarre position of being first lady. John and I jumped in because we do believe we are at a point where incrementalism isn’t going to cut it anymore.”

Except for those incremental “climate-change” consulting fees. They’re green in more ways than one.

Posted by Charlotte Allen

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