PORTLAND, Ore. - Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber's fiancee tearfully admitted that she violated the law when she married an immigrant seeking to retain residency in the United States. Cylvia Hayes said in a news conference that she believes she was paid around $5,000 for the 1997 marriage.
"It was wrong then and it is wrong now and I am here today to accept the consequences," Hayes said Thursday. Hayes said she was "ashamed" and didn't tell the governor about the marriage until a reporter from the Willamette Week newspaper began asking questions this week. When she told Kitzhaber about the marriage, "he was stunned and he was hurt," Hayes said. "And I will be eternally grateful for the beautiful, loving way he has supported me." Hayes apologized to Kitzhaber, her friends and family, and to Oregonians, saying she deeply regrets not being upfront about "a serious mistake."
Hayes was twice divorced and just shy of her 30th birthday when she married an 18-year-old Ethiopian man. She was a student at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, and she said they were introduced by a mutual acquaintance. Hayes said they never lived together, met only a handful of times and have not had any contact since the divorce was finalized in 2002. "It was a marriage of convenience," Hayes said. "He needed help, and I needed financial support."