Dems urge Oregon governor to resign

Democrats in Oregon are urging Governor John Kitzhaber to resign as evidence of sweet heart deals with green energy companies engineered by his fiancee continues to grow.

It appeared that Kitzhaber was ready to resign on Wednesday, but changed his mind. He called Oregon's Secretary of State Kate Brown, who would succeed the governor if he stepped down, and told her to return to Oregon from Washington, D.C. where she was attending a conference.

What happened next, Brown described as "strange":

Brown had been summoned back to Oregon by the governor on Wednesday while she was attending a conference in Washington. Her abrupt return to Oregon fueled speculation that the governor was planning to resign. 

Sources told The Associated Press that, in fact, he had decided to step down amid the ethics controversy involving his fiancée but changed his mind while Brown was en route back to Oregon. 

In her statement, Brown described how Kitzhaber gave her conflicting messages. 

She said she first heard from the governor late Tuesday afternoon. "He asked me to come back to Oregon as soon as possible to speak with him in person and alone," Brown said. 

But when she arrived for the meeting with the governor on Wednesday, Brown said, "He asked me why I came back early from Washington, D.C., which I found strange." 

According to Brown, he also sent conflicting signals about his future plans when she asked what he wanted to talk about. 

"The Governor told me he was not resigning, after which, he began a discussion about transition," she said, adding that she told the governor she would be ready "should he resign." 

Pressure to do so grew significantly on Thursday. The state treasurer also joined in the call for Kitzhaber to step down. "Unfortunately, the current situation has become untenable, and I cannot imagine any scenario by which things improve," said Treasurer Ted Wheeler, another Democrat. "Oregon deserves a governor who is fully focused on the duties of state." 

Until Thursday's statement, Brown also had avoided weighing in on the controversy surrounding Kitzhaber. Her move further isolates him from other senior Democrats, none of whom have come to his aid.

Clearly, the governor is not firing on all cylinders. Undoubtedly, the pressure he's under is affecting his grip on reality. His fiancee is headed for jail and he, himself, might be implicated in the pay for play schemes. The Oregon attorney genearl launched a criminal probe earlier this month and given that he has no support among top Democrats in the state, he will probably step down over the weekend.

Of course, there is a delicious irony in catching these green energy companies in what amounts to payoffs to the governor's fiancee.  She was paid by the companies for work she may or may not have performed while she was an "unpaid advisor" to the governor's office and while the state was considering giving the companies grants.

Just 3 months after a big re-election victory, Kitzhaber is going down for the count.