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Oregon's First Lady Admits To Sham Marriage

Chris Lehman
Northwest News Network

Oregon first lady Cylvia Hayes said she made a "serious mistake" when she married an 18-year-old immigrant in 1997.

Hayes said she received about $5,000 for marrying an Ethiopian college student who wanted to get a Green Card.

Hayes teared up during a hastily scheduled press conference this afternoon in Portland. She said it was a difficult and unstable period in her life and that she needed the money. She said she used the cash to buy a laptop computer and to pay for other school expenses.

Hayes said she's hired an attorney to deal with the possible legal fallout from admitting to the sham marriage.

Hayes is not married currently to Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber but the governor considers Hayes his partner and she's referred to as the first lady by the governor's office.

The marriage was first reported late Wednesday by Willamette Week. That's also when Hayes said she first told the governor about the secret in her past. Hayes said she hasn't spoken to her ex-husband since the two divorced in 2002.