- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 11, 2014

Oregon’s first lady, Cylvia Hayes publicly apologized on Thursday for illegally marrying an Ethiopian immigrant, allowing him to remain in the U.S. in exchange for money in 1997.

“It was wrong then and it is wrong now and I am here today to accept the consequences,” Ms. Hayes, the fiances of Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber, said at the news conference, a local Fox affiliate reported. She added that she was “ashamed” and did not tell the governor about the marriage until it was reported in the news.

“This is the most painful part for me,” she said, the station reported. “John Kitzhaber deserved to know the history of the person he was forming a relationship with. The fact that I did not disclose this to him meant that he has learned about this in the most public and unpleasant way.”

Ms. Hayes said that the governor was “stunned and he was hurt” by the news, but added that she was “eternally grateful for the beautiful, loving way he has supported me.”

Mr. Kitzhaber was not present at the new conference at Ms. Haye’s request.

Ms. Hayes met 18-year-old Ethiopian immigrant Abraham Abraham and married him in exchange for $5,000 in July 1997 during what she called a “difficult and unstable” period in her life. Ms. Hayes was 29.

“We met only a handful of times. We never lived together. I have not had any contact with him since the divorce finalized in 2002,” Ms. Hayes said.

Immigrants can obtain U.S. citizenship through marriage, but the federal government does not recognize relationships as marriages if the sole purpose is to evade deportation.

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