People of Oregon Are Responsible for the Legal Fees of John Kitzhaber's Girlfriend

by | March 20, 2015

By Laura Gunderson

Taxpayers will foot the bill for Cylvia Hayes' defense in the federal investigation into the former first lady and her fiance, John Kitzhaber. Hayes is now being represented by two federal public defenders -- Lisa Hay and Jerry Needham -- in the influence-peddling investigation by the FBI and the IRS targeting Hayes and Kitzhaber.

Portland criminal defense attorney Whitney Boise had represented Hayes since October after news emerged she had accepted $5,000 to marry an Ethiopian immigrant seeking a green card.

Boise will continue to represent her in the near-term in her lawsuit filed against The Oregonian/OregonLive to block the release of Hayes' emails related to her role as a state policy adviser and first lady on several of her personal accounts.

Hayes' has been under scrutiny for accepting paid consulting contracts centered on the very policy issues that she pushed in her roles as first lady and as an adviser to Kitzhaber.

Questions also have been raised about her tax filings. Hayes disclosed earlier this year that she accepted $118,000 -- $30,000 in 2011 and $88,000 in 2012 -- for a fellowship with the Clean Economy Development Center. Yet those figures didn't match tax filings she provided to The Oregonian/OregonLive that showed she claimed income of $27,361 in 2012.

There are no strict income limits to qualify for a federal public defender. Courts ultimately make the call and typically base decisions on a defendant's resources and the anticipated cost of their defense. Typically, federal fraud investigations are costly.

A U.S. District Court judge in Oregon made the determination on Hayes, but Hay wouldn't comment on which judge it was or when she began working for Hayes.

Hay was named Oregon's federal public defender last September to replace Steven Wax, who'd held the position for 31 years. Wax stepped down to open a private practice and serve as the legal director for the newly created Oregon Innocence Project.

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