Very often when a person finds themself in a more public position they run the risk of media publishing misinformation about them. This has happened to me several times and I have created this venue to share facts and clarify media misinformation.
Samples of False Reporting about Cylvia Hayes and Governor Kitzhaber by the Oregonian and Willamette Week
NOTE: This was a written statement Cylvia Hayes provided to KATU News on July 10th, 2017.
The story that first launched the false allegations against John and me was an article titled, First Lady Inc., that Jaquiss posted Oct. 7, 2014. This story contains serious misinformation. Perhaps the most damaging false reporting about me was Jaquiss’ assertion that I had made more money before John got elected than afterwards. This is blatantly untrue. He made this claim and stated it as fact without having my full financial and tax filing information. My attorney is now on record stating, “Ms. Hayes fully reported the consulting payments she received on her tax returns, in the year she received the income.”
Jaquiss also wrote that, “Prior to Kitzhaber’s election in 2010, Hayes had typically worked on local issues and small contracts.” This also is blatantly untrue. In the few years prior to John’s election I had some of my largest contracts including state agencies and the federal government. Since those were government projects they would have been public record and a reporter wanting to find the truth should have known about them. It seems impossible that Jaquiss would not know about the larger contracts with Oregon Housing and Community Services and Community Colleges and Workforce Development because in 2010, Jaquiss made his first attempt to implicate me in scandal when he alleged the Oregon Department of Energy had awarded a small sub-contract to a company in which I was a partner because I was the likely next governor’s partner. Please note I was exonerated and never charged with anything in that investigation as well. Also note, the ODOE director who was investigated wound up suing the state for violating his civil rights and won a record-breaking $1 million settlement. During that investigation, though I do not know the full extent, I do know that my work with OHCS and CCWD were examined. It seems impossible Jaquiss would not have known that.
Other instances of misinformation about my work include Jaquiss’ allegation that the business trip I took to Bhutan, in which I was accompanied by Governor Kitzhaber, was intended to secure a consulting contract with Demos. This is not true. The contract with Demos was already in the works before the Bhutan trip and we did not discuss it while in Bhutan.
Jaquiss also misrepresented my collaboration with the Oregon Business Council regarding the Prosperity Initiative although this piece of his article was more innuendo than blatant false information. That being said, Jaquiss wrote, “Last fall, Wyse’s group earmarked a $35,000 grant from Northwest Area Foundation to hire Therese Lang, a public relations consultant, to work as Hayes’ spokeswoman.” This is not true. There was no $35,000 grant from Northwest Area Foundation. That was a portion of a much larger grant that the foundation had granted specifically to support the Prosperity Initiative and that communications position was called for in the grant guidelines.
The October 7 2014 article also contains misinformation that is less serious but in line with the narrative Jaquiss seemed intent on creating. For example, he wrote, “She said questions about her consulting work are unfair and miss the point.” Again, this is blatantly untrue. I only responded to Jaquiss’ requests for information about these allegations in written format and I never wrote what he printed above – I still have the original document I provided to Jaquiss two days before he published the inaccurate article and it does not include the statement he asserts. Note in his article he says that I said that without using quotation marks. These are his words put forward as mine.
Another case of more trivial but sloppy reporting is his statement, “In the story she often tells, her mother fled Oklahoma after leaving Hayes’ father.” This is just wrong and I’ve never said it. What I have said is the reason I was not born in Oklahoma was because my mother left her first husband for his younger brother (my father) and so they had to get out of Dodge so to speak – that’s why I was born in the Pacific Northwest. I have stated this in numerous public speeches. Again, this is trivial compared to the others but it just shows the pattern of inaccuracy.
I’d like to point out one other thing. Not related to the Oct. 7th 2014 article, but tremendously damaging was the repeated allegation by Willamette Week that Governor Kitzhaber demanded to have his personal emails deleted from the state server. This false story is something Willamette Week refused to acknowledge, let alone correct, despite repeated retraction requests. This false accusation was fully put to rest when investigations by the Marion County District Attorney, Yamhill District Attorney and Oregon State Police conducted definitively concluded the person who leaked the emails had not been ordered to delete them.
As for the recent Willamette Week statement that I ignored their requests for information, I do not recall receiving much from them prior to the Oct. 7th article. That story was certainly a surprise to me. The bombardment of media incoming that followed was extraordinary and I did not believe that either Willamette Week or the Oregonian was interested in facts that differed from the narrative they were creating. I did not agree to an interview with Willamette Week because I did not believe it would do any good in preventing the spread of false allegations. I did not formally demand corrections and retractions in those early weeks because I did not understand Oregon defamation laws and I was utterly overwhelmed being the center of the media frenzy. In retrospect I now feel that was a mistake and that I should have immediately and publicly responded to the false allegations. I would encourage anyone who winds up targeted by tabloid tactics to know the defamation laws and demand clarification of misinformation.
As for the Oregonian issues, the Oregonian was equally egregious in their coverage when they falsely claimed I engaged in a quid pro quo in which they had to later agree to an out-of-court settlement payment to avoid a defamation suit.
Both Nick Budnick and Laura Gunderson wrote not one, but two stories, in which they falsely altered a direct quote from one of my emails.
Budnick and Gunderson took an email a colleague had sent to me, altered his words to claim that he and I had worked on the controversial Columbia River Crossing bridge project, and then printed the altered email in direct quotations as if those were his actual words. They also falsely implied my colleague was the one who introduced me to an organization I had done work for soon after John got elected. This was completely false. Not only was it false, but Budnick had to have known it was false because he had previously reported just the opposite! While working for the Bend Bulletin, Budnick had covered this topic and had accurately reported that I had been the one who made the introduction between the two organizations, not the other way around. His later piece in the Oregonian was contrary even to his own previous reporting.
My colleague made repeated requests for a correction, but the Oregonian ignored him, finally sending their lawyer in what appeared to be a strong-arm move. My colleague then secured his own attorney and presented the Oregonian with a defamation suit. Finally, after dragging their feet for five months refusing to correct the obvious misinformation the Oregonian settled out of court and issued a brief retraction.
Both the Willamette Week and the Oregonian engaged in a click bait competition in which getting the story first seemed more important than getting the story correct.
Early on in the media frenzy, Jeff Manning wrote a story titled, Coal terminal opponent signed Cylvia Hayes to contract a year before Kitzhaber opposed project, insinuating that the governor had only opposed coal expansion due to my influence. The governor’s communications staff had provided Manning with ample evidence showing John’s long record of opposing coal expansion and harmful impacts. In fact, the Oregonian Editorial board itself, as far back as 1981 (21 years before John and I met) had noted his stance on coal issues. It seems logical a reporter interested in the truth would at least take a look at the archives of his own newspaper.
Even more shocking is that one of the Governor’s communications advisors informed us that just prior to the accusatory article being published, Manning had called to tell him he knew there was nothing to the story but that if he didn’t run it Nigel Jaquiss at Willamette Week would. So allegedly he ran with it despite secretly acknowledging it was lacking credibility, presenting it as fact to Oregonians who thought they were getting accurate information about what was going on with the leadership of their state.
I am incredibly grateful that after two and a half years, the federal investigation is now closed. I am relieved, but not surprised that after a detailed and thorough investigation, federal prosecutors concluded there was no reason to file any charges for criminal wrongdoing.
However, while I have been vindicated of any acts of corruption, that doesn’t mean I didn’t make mistakes. My naiveté in getting into such a high profile position without being fully transparent about my past caused tremendous harm.
One of the many very difficult aspects of this ordeal has been not being able to apologize, because, due to the ongoing investigation, I was advised by legal counsel not to make apologies or any statements that had anything to do with the allegations.
So, now, finally, I want to apologize to those I hurt. The secrecy about my past marriage provided an opportunity for the incredible media and political firestorm that caused tremendous harm to Governor Kitzhaber’s staff and campaign team, my clients and colleagues, and many people across this state. It caused an incredible amount of drama and stress and undermined good work that was being done on important issues like reducing poverty, reforming health care, addressing climate change and protecting our environment. For that I am deeply sorry.
The greatest harm was to John, the person I love most in this world, and that has been a heavy burden. I truly believe that, given his impeccable career in public service, the false accusations of corruption would have had little traction had it not been for the wrongful actions in my past. I will be forever grateful for John’s forgiveness and kindness as we have lived through these tremendously difficult past few years.
When I received the news yesterday that the investigation was finally over, I was very emotional in ways I hadn’t expected and it drove home just how difficult this ordeal has been. It also highlighted just how much I have grown and changed.
This experience has taught me how to face deep despair and not be paralyzed by it. I’ve come to better recognize and move beyond triggers, limiting thought patterns and the terrible mind-spinning of anxiety. In the face of deep ugliness I began to really, deeply appreciate and be more generous with simple human kindness – this is adding such incredible beauty to life.
I’ve gained so much insight into the huge challenge in, and power of forgiveness. Forgiveness isn’t about those who hurt us; it’s about taking back our own power and seeing the humanity in everyone. It is critical to healing ourselves and our world.
One of the most painful and beautiful lessons came through surrendering to the present moment. For anyone going through something really hard that they have little control over there is huge power in realizing we can always control how we choose to be in any given moment. Becoming more fully present in each moment is one of the biggest gifts wrapped in barbed wire in really difficult challenges. Another is learning how to stay open to beautiful possibilities when things appear bleak. The truth is we usually have such an incomplete view of what’s really going on that we miss opportunities all over the place. Because there was so little that I could control and so much of the work I’d built to that point had been lost I had to believe there was something bigger going on, some purpose behind it all.
And lo and behold now I find myself working with people and companies who are facing identity challenges, big transitions, and reinvention! I’m also working with fellow environmental and social change professionals in developing hope, resiliency and effectiveness in our work – and I love it! I certainly couldn’t have seen that coming two and a half years ago. And, I never would have believed I’d be writing a book about my experience with public shaming and expanding my public speaking to include the tremendous destructiveness of dishonest, unethical media bad-actors in our sensationalized media culture. Life really is a grand mystery.
I am deeply grateful for all the people who helped me through this. I want to thank the investigators for their professionalism, doing a thorough job and keeping their work and findings out of the media until ready to issue their conclusions. I also want to thank my team of legal defenders. I’m sure I will never know the enormous amount of work they put into this. Their commitment, compassion, talent and work ethic was extraordinary, all on public servants’ salaries. I am truly in awe of the team that came together to help with this.
Finally, and very importantly, I want to say thank you to the friends (old and new), family members, clients who stayed with me, even kind strangers who reached out with love and support. Many of you will never know just how important and powerful your kindness has been.
I am thrilled to be exonerated and very glad to finally be in position to put this behind me and move full steam ahead helping heal our planet and people who are facing turbulence and transformation.
Another Example of Vast Media Misinformation
Do you know what the most frustrating thing is about being targeted by the media? It’s the fact that with some of them, no matter what anyone says or does, no matter what the facts are, they will spin their story to match their overall agenda. It’s a story with a purpose, and that purpose isn’t tied to truth, it’s tied to clicks and sales.
The Oregonian has repeatedly printed misinformation about me and Governor Kitzhaber.
Just recently they admitted to altering an email related to the allegations against me and printing it as a direct quote. In addition, facing a potential defamation suit, the Oregonian also admitted printing false allegations about me and Governor Kitzhaber and has had to issue multiple corrections.
First, let me clear something up –
I have turned over to the federal investigators every email they have asked for. I am cooperating with the federal investigators and providing them all information required so that they can conduct an investigation using all the information rather than taking bits and pieces of out of context and speculating on its meaning.
However, I have fought to prevent the Oregonian from also having access to those emails not because I have anything to hide but because the Oregonian has repeatedly used emails to make false allegations and print misinformation.
One of the Oregonian’s patterns is to run stories making allegations based on my emails without actually quoting my part of the email. I want Oregonian readers to know exactly what I said in my emails and would ask that my direct quotes be accurately conveyed.
The Oregonian continues to refuse to answer questions and inform their readers why they altered a direct quote in an email, thereby falsifying a public record. When asked about publishing inaccurate information the Oregonian has refused to comment.
It is time for the Oregonian to come clean and explain why they’re printing false allegations regarding emails. Here is the actual language and a link to their admission of inaccurate reporting:
On April 5, 2015, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported in a front page article regarding the release of 94,000 emails from the Kitzhaber administration that Steve Bella’s group, Center for State Innovation, helped arrange a position for then first lady Cylvia Hayes with Rural Development Initiatives. In fact, neither the center nor Bella, a senior adviser with the center, helped arrange the position.
Additionally, in that article and one published on the front page on April 8, 2015, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported Bella had sought then Gov. John Kitzhaber’s support for an “education program.” In fact, Bella sought support for a “strategy academy,” which would have been provided free to the state. In an email to Hayes, Bella referred to “CRC,” which stood for “Career Readiness Certificate.” Both articles incorrectly inserted “Columbia River Crossing” into the email quote. Bella has done no work on the Columbia River Crossing.
The Oregonian/OregonLive regrets publication of the errors.
— The Oregonian/OregonLive
The only thing that is being hidden at this point regarding my emails is why the Oregonian falsified them.
There is no new news here. This is another desperate attempt by the Oregonian to try to generate smoke and call it fire.
I have kept silent on this issue for too long. I feel it is now past time for me to use my voice to defend myself and try to prevent this publication from taking advantage of my silence.
Thank you to all of you for your continued support. I have been truly floored by how many of you have reached out to me with kindness and love and encouragement. It means so very much to me.
The Oregonian Gets it Wrong — Again
As I have said repeatedly, my attorneys have advised me not to talk about the status of the investigation and I while I cannot wait to be able to do so I am, of course, taking my attorneys’ advice. I am also saying that I have not yet even spoken to the federal investigators. And yet, in another false report by the Oregonian they have claimed, erroneously, that I have said I have spoken with the investigators. When I asked how they came up with that claim the reporter said it was just a mistake, but after the vast amount of misinformation about me is it really just a mistake? As I mention in this video statement I am floored by all of this. What do you think?
Goliath Wins Again
I was shocked to learn that Judge Tracy Prall of Marion County Circuit Court has ruled that I should have to pay over $128,000 to the Oregonian for their legal expenses in going through my emails.
This is the same news outlet that intentionally altered a direct quote from my emails and fought for five months not to correct the misinformation until, being faced with losing a defamation suit, they were forced to settle and issue a retraction. But by then the damage was already done. And that wasn’t the worst of their inaccurate reporting by a long shot.
As my attorneys pointed out it is unprecedented in history to use a public records law to require an individual person to litigate a public records action with no assistance whatsoever from the public agency that was allegedly represented. Despite it being unprecedented I followed the exact directions of the Attorney General in handling the matter. Nonetheless, now, in a further unprecedented decision I am being told I have to pay for the Oregonian’s legal fees.
This sets a terrible precedent for anyone considering a position of public service. It so saddens me that at this point I would have to urge any well-intentioned, but not uber-wealthy person to stay away from public service because we are just too unprotected against the media.
I have been blown away to learn how much power corporate media has and how much blatant dishonesty they are able to get away with. It is an incredibly dangerous precedent that this court sided with them.
I know I am in a major David and Goliath situation here and I know the Oregonian’s style is to just keep kicking, and keep spreading misinformation to feed the false narrative they have created.
I’m exhausted by the whole thing but I am not just going to just roll over. I intend to appeal this unprecedented decision. And I do not intend to give a dime to the Oregonian, which has been dishonest, irresponsible and biased in its coverage of my case.
I really am amazed and feeling a little sick. This biased, clickbait-based media model doesn’t just hammer the people in its crosshairs; it is destroying our democracy.