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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Oregon Legislature. This is a venue for political and policy coverage of the state government in Salem and its impact on the people of Oregon.

Oregon Ethics Commission Is Looking Into Governor, First Lady

Chris Lehman
Northwest News Network

Oregon's Ethics Commission is officially looking into actions taken by Governor John Kitzhaber and first lady Cylvia Hayes.

The panel met Friday for the first time since questions were raised last month about whether Hayes used her title for personal gain.

Ethics commissioners said they’ve launched a preliminary investigation into whether Hayes used her relationship with the governor as a way of landing lucrative clean energy consulting contracts. Republicans filed a complaint in October. Governor John Kitzhaber has said his office took steps to ensure that Hayes wasn't overstepping her bounds.

The commission will decide before the end of February whether to proceed with a full-scale investigation. That could last another six months and could result in fines.

Commission members and staff aren't allowed to comment on current investigations.

Kitzhaber was re-elected to another four-year term this week. He said regardless of the commission's ruling, Hayes won't take on any new consulting gigs while he remains in office.

The commission is not taking up any issues related to Hayes’ 1997 fraudulent marriage to an 18-year-old immigrant who needed a green card.