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Oregon's First Lady Admits To Sham Marriage

File photo of Oregon first lady Cylvia Hayes speaking in Bend in 2012.
Chris Lehman
/
Northwest News Network
File photo of Oregon first lady Cylvia Hayes speaking in Bend in 2012.

Oregon first lady Cylvia Hayes said she made a "serious mistake" when she married an 18-year-old immigrant in 1997.

File photo of Oregon first lady Cylvia Hayes speaking in Bend in 2012.
Credit Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network
/
Northwest News Network
File photo of Oregon first lady Cylvia Hayes speaking in Bend in 2012.

Hayes said she received about $5,000 for marrying an Ethiopian college student who wanted to get a Green Card.

Hayes teared up during a hastily scheduled press conference this afternoon in Portland. She said it was a difficult and unstable period in her life and that she needed the money. She said she used the cash to buy a laptop computer and to pay for other school expenses.

Hayes said she's hired an attorney to deal with the possible legal fallout from admitting to the sham marriage.

Hayes is not married currently to Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber but the governor considers Hayes his partner and she's referred to as the first lady by the governor's office.

The marriage was first reported late Wednesday by Willamette Week. That's also when Hayes said she first told the governor about the secret in her past. Hayes said she hasn't spoken to her ex-husband since the two divorced in 2002.

Copyright 2014 Northwest News Network

Chris Lehman covers the Oregon state capitol for JPR as part of the Northwest News Network, a group of 12 Northwest public radio organizations which collaborate on regional news coverage. Chris graduated from Temple University with a journalism degree in 1997. He began his career producing arts features for Red River Public Radio in Shreveport, Louisiana and has been a reporter/announcer for NPR station WNIJ in DeKalb, Illinois. Chris has also reported from overseas, filing stories from Iraq, Burkina Faso, El Salvador, Northern Ireland, Zimbabwe and Uganda.
Chris Lehman
Chris Lehman graduated from Temple University with a journalism degree in 1997. He landed his first job less than a month later, producing arts stories for Red River Public Radio in Shreveport, Louisiana. Three years later he headed north to DeKalb, Illinois, where he worked as a reporter and announcer for NPR–affiliate WNIJ–FM. In 2006 he headed west to become the Salem Correspondent for the Northwest News Network.