OK, so my last blog was about how Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber should resign, and boy oh boy was I right. Admittedly, I felt a little bashful when a fellow politico politely alluded to the notion that I might have jumped the gun–and for a moment I wondered–but now I’m glad I followed my political instincts: ding-dong the Kitz is dead.
Figuratively, of course. I’m going to start saying that, since everyone else says literally when it’s entirely unnecessary.
Anyhow, to sum up, Kitzhaber told his aids he was going to resign last Sunday, and led Senate President Peter Courtney to believe the same thing Wednesday. There were lawyer switches, he-said she-saids, and then today (Thursday, in case you read this later), Courtney and House Speaker Tina Kotec told him to resign. Hours later, State Treasurer Ted Wheeler said the same. Meanwhile, the Portland Papers were coming out day after day with ever more damning information about the inappropriate use of his office by his fiancee, Cylvia Hayes. Everyone expected him to resign.
And then, unbelievably, he didn’t. After meeting with his fiancee and hot shot lawyer Jim McDermott on Wednesday, he decided to stand pat: “Let me be as clear as I was last week, that I have no intention of resigning as Governor of the state of Oregon. I was elected to do a job for the people of this great state and I intend to continue to do so,” in a statement released via email.
But make no mistake: he’s done. The longer he tries to stick around, the louder the chorus will grow for him to leave; indeed, even if he’s done nothing wrong, the media circus is such a side show it will totally consume a session of the legislature in a year when Democrats smashed Republicans to take full control of both houses. He’s done–it’s only a matter of time, and the sooner the better.
Kitzhaber has been a great governor for this state. He’s accomplished some great things. And he is sure as hell better than any of the vacuous, incompetent Republicans who’ve run against him. But man, his fiancee and her business dealings are a slow-motion train wreck headed for a flaming dumpster full of baby diapers, and it ain’t going away. Trust me, it looks bad. So do us all a favor Kitz, and step down–as I said last Sunday.
But here’s what everyone needs to remember, as I also wrote:
What Kitzhaber’s doing is only one step removed from what every politician does in this country, made possible by the horrifically dumb Supreme Court decision in Citizen’s United. Because as we’re all now aware, massive amounts of money are flooding into our elections every two years—and that money comes at a cost: it means that we don’t have a government by, of, and for the people, but a government that works for the few, the rich, the powerful.
So yeah, it’s bad that Kitzhaber abused his position as a public official to help his girlfriend, but what’s the difference between that and the Republicans who’re pushing the Keystone XL pipeline, after $721 million was spent during the last election to ensure they’d do just that?
Cause let me tell you, being in Congress is a pretty cushy job, and you can bet that those in Congress and the Senate benefit financially from their public positions. Making 150K for working around 100 days a year, all expenses written off, while being wined and dined and golfed and fished and spoiled in every possible manner by lobbyists has got to be pretty goddamned sweet—and that’s just the benefits listed in the job description. That doesn’t even include being able to pay family members and friends hundreds of thousands of dollars, or even millions with all the money that’s being spent on elections these days, to work on your campaign staff or in some other shady, but somehow legal, capacity.
I guess my point is, if we’re outraged about Kitzhaber—and we probably should be—then we ought to be outraged about how American democracy functions in general. Because right now, as it stands, EVERY politician in the nation is using his or her position to gain financially, and in the process, is made less and less capable of acting in the best interests of their constituents aka the American public.
I’ll say it again: if you haven’t gone to movetoamend.org and signed the petition, do so now! We need a constitutional amendment that allows election spending to be regulated, one that clearly states that money is not speech and corporations are not people.