- Associated Press - Thursday, October 30, 2014

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - Dialing up his rhetoric as he seeks a come-from-behind victory in the race for Oregon governor, Republican Dennis Richardson on Thursday accused Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber of hiding from the press and public.

Richardson has spent weeks hammering Kitzhaber over ethics questions about the work the governor’s fiancee did for consulting clients, but he’s struggled to trip up the three-term incumbent. In a Portland news conference on Friday, Richardson demanded that Kitzhaber release public records that have been requested by news organizations.

“If he’s innocent, and there’s no wrongdoing, Gov. Kitzhaber should have no problem answering very simple questions,” Richardson told reporters. “But if these answers implicate Gov. Kitzhaber and members of his staff in a crime, Gov. Kitzhaber should confess and face the consequences.”

Kitzhaber has denied wrongdoing, saying his fiancee, Cylvia Hayes, avoided work that presented ethical conflicts and had it proactively reviewed by a lawyer. But public records indicate the legal review came only after Hayes began working for outside advocacy organizations.

“Rep. Richardson sounds a bit shrill,” said Amy Wojcicki, a spokeswoman for Kitzhaber’s campaign. “It’s the end of the campaign, he is behind in the polls, and desperation is creeping in. It’s a Hail Mary pass without a football.”

Kitzhaber’s office is coping with an increase in requests for public records and is working to comply, said Melissa Navas, a spokeswoman for the governor’s office.

“We do our best to respond as quickly and efficiently as possible while still trying to complete the rest of our daily activities,” Navas said.

Richardson has sharpened his tone against Kitzhaber as the election has drawn nearer, accusing the governor of “corruption.”

The pool of persuadable voters is dwindling daily. Nearly three of every 10 registered voters had turned in a ballot by Wednesday.

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