Former first lady Cylvia Hayes is asking a court to rule that she does not have to turn over her emails in response to a public records request made by The Oregonian Jan. 29.
Hayes asserted her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in a court document filed Wednesday, and stated that her constitutional rights supersede Oregon public records law.
The complaint filed by Hayes’ attorney also restated many of her previous arguments against the records release, which the Oregon Department of Justice rejected earlier this month. This included the claim that Hayes was never a public official and therefore her emails are not subject to the state’s public records law.
According to Hayes’ attorney, Whitney P. Boise, “Any functions Hayes performed for the state were unpaid and “largely advisory or ceremonial in nature.” Hayes is engaged to marry former Gov. John Kitzhaber, and for most of Kitzhaber’s third term, Hayes served as an unpaid adviser on state energy and economic development policy. Kitzhaber resigned Feb. 18 amid state and federal criminal investigations into allegations that Hayes used her position for financial gain.
The Oregonian sought Hayes emails concerning state business received or sent by Hayes after Jan. 1, 2011. The newspaper also requested emails specifically containing the phrase “first lady” or the acronym “FLO” that Hayes sent, received or was copied.
Hayes used several private email accounts to correspond with public employees regarding state policy, travel arrangements and her private consulting business. She never had a state email account, and instead used a Gmail account with the signature “Cylvia Hayes First Lady State of Oregon.”
On Feb. 12 the Oregon Attorney General’s Office ordered Hayes to turn over the emails after The Oregonian filed a petition seeking the records. Hayes had opposed that petition and argued she was not a public official and thus not subject to Oregon public records laws. Deputy Attorney General Frederick M. Boss rejected that argument.
“It is clear that Ms. Hayes worked extensively on government matters, and did at least some of that work by email,” Boss wrote in the Feb. 12 order.
Records already released to the EO Media Group/Pamplin Media Group Capital Bureau and other news organizations have revealed Hayes directed the work of state employees, including at least one executive-level employee.
— The Capital Bureau is a collaboration between EO Media Group and Pamplin Media Group.