Over the last couple of years, there’s been no shortage of governors embroiled in some pretty serious scandals. To varying degrees of severity, controversies have surrounded and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R), Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R), Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (R), and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R).
In Texas, former Gov. Rick Perry (R) is facing a felony indictment, while in Virginia, former Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) has already been convicted of multiple felonies.
But despite all of this, to find the only governor in recent years to actually resign from office, you’ll have to look much further west.
Gov. John Kitzhaber of Oregon announced his resignation Friday amid an ethics scandal involving his fiancée – ending a bizarre few days of uncertainty over his fate.“I have always had the deepest respect for the remarkable institution that is the Oregon Legislature; and for the office of the Governor,” Kitzhaber said in a statement. “And I cannot in good conscience continue to be the element that undermines it. I have always tried to do the right thing and now the right thing to do is to step aside.”“I understand that I have become a liability to the very institutions and policies to which I have dedicated my career and, indeed, my entire adult life,” the 67-year-old governor added.
The four-term Democratic governor also chastised the media, but as we discussed yesterday, Kitzhaber’s biggest problem was the loss of confidence from legislative leaders from his own party.
Oregon has no lieutenant governor’s office, which means Secretary of State Kate Brown (D) will be sworn in as the state’s 37th governor.
For a recap of the controversies that forced Kitzhaber to quit, just four months after winning re-election, Rachel’s segment on last night’s show will help bring you up to speed.
Looking ahead, Kate Brown has a strong reputation as a prominent progressive voice in Oregon politics, though she has the disadvantage of a very limited transition period between administrations.
Brown will also be the nations’ first openly bisexual governor, marking another breakthrough for diversity.
We don’t yet know exactly what’s next for Kitzhaber – a giant of Oregon politics, with a career spanning nearly four decades and multiple elected offices – or exactly when he’ll leave office. That said, an investigation into his alleged misdeeds is ongoing, and won’t necessarily come to an end simply because the governor is stepping down.
Kitzhaber’s full statement, which includes many of his notable accomplishments in office, is online here.