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January 30, 2015

Ore. Group's State Funds Soared When It Hired Governor's Partner

A Eugene, Ore., nonprofit saw its taxpayer funding rise eight-fold during a year in which it employed Gov. John Kitzhaber's girlfriend and shrink dramatically after she left, according to Portland newspaper Willamette Week. Rural Development Initiatives, which got $25,000 from the state in 2010, received a $214,000 allocation from Gov. John Kitzhaber's administration after Cylvia Hayes joined the nonprofit in early 2011.

The organization, which assists communities and small towns with planning and job growth, said Ms. Hayes was on its payroll for about six months. It received $2,500 from the state in 2012, after she had departed. Mr. Kitzhaber and Ms. Hayes, who are now engaged, are facing a probe by the state ethics commission into whether she has leveraged government connections to benefit her current work as a private consultant on sustainable development.