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0000017b-f971-ddf0-a17b-fd73f3950000Election coverage from SPR and the Northwest News Network:Statewide Election: WashingtonSpokane County ElectionStatewide Election: IdahoStatewide Election: OregonU.S. House and Senate

Kitzhaber, Richardson Again Clash Over Role Of First Lady

Campaign photos

The behavior of Oregon first lady Cylvia Hayes provoked the sharpest exchanges during a gubernatorial debate in Portland Tuesday night on television station KGW.

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Campaign photos

Incumbent Democrat John Kitzhaber declared that he would freeze out his fiancée from any policy-making roles in the near-term.

"Cylvia, as you know, is taking some personal time now to sort of address some of these issues herself and does not have a role in the administration and will not have a role until all the relevant questions are answered," the governor said.

Hayes has supplied the biggest headlines in the governor's race of late. It started with her admission of a sham marriage to help an Ethiopian immigrant get a green card. The latest admission is that she and an ex-boyfriend planned a marijuana grow operation when they lived in rural northeast Washington more than 15 years ago.

Governor John Kitzhaber said those revelations are personal matters that he and Hayes are working through. But the governor defended Hayes against yet other charges that she used her title of First Lady to secure lucrative contracts for her private consulting firm.

"I do not believe that any Oregon criminal laws or federal criminal laws were violated, period,” Kitzhaber said.

Republican challenger Dennis Richardson doesn't buy that. He said the governor should appoint a special prosecutor.

"For the governor to say that he hasn't seen that that's a problem, then he doesn't see corruption that is obvious to the rest of us,” Richardson said.

Richardson is trying to become the first Republican to be elected governor in Oregon since 1982. If Kitzhaber wins re-election it would be for his fourth term.

In August, the twice-divorced Kitzhaber announced he proposed marriage to his First Lady, the thrice-divorced Hayes.

Copyright 2014 Northwest News Network

Chris Lehman graduated from Temple University with a journalism degree in 1997. He landed his first job less than a month later, producing arts stories for Red River Public Radio in Shreveport, Louisiana. Three years later he headed north to DeKalb, Illinois, where he worked as a reporter and announcer for NPR–affiliate WNIJ–FM. In 2006 he headed west to become the Salem Correspondent for the Northwest News Network.
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