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.
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.