- Associated Press - Friday, May 1, 2015

SALEM, Ore. (AP) - A lawyer for the Oregonian newspaper asked a Salem judge on Friday to dismiss several of the legal claims made by former Oregon first lady Cylvia Hayes in her bid to keep emails from her personal accounts out of the public eye.

Marion County Circuit Court Judge Tracy Prall did not make a ruling and gave no hints about which way she might be leaning. Hayes was not in court.

The intersection between Hayes’ work for the state and for private consulting clients is at the heart of the influence-peddling controversy that led her fiance, John Kitzhaber, to resign as governor in February.

The case stems from Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum’s ruling earlier this year ordering Hayes to disclose emails from personal accounts that discuss public business to the Oregonian, which requested them under the state’s public records law.

Hayes filed a lawsuit to overturn the attorney general’s order, offering a variety of legal reasons. Two of her reasons were the primary subject of Friday’s hearing: That the release would invade her privacy and violate her right against self-incrimination.

“The Oregonian hasn’t asked - and the attorney general hasn’t ordered - plaintiff to disclose her Social Security number, her private medical data, her birthday greetings to her Aunt Ethel or whatever the case may be,” Oregonian attorney Charles Hinkle said. “The attorney general has ordered to her produce emails relating to the conduct of the public’s business.”

Hayes’ lawyer, Whitney Boise, maintains that Hayes is not a public body as defined by the public records statute, so she can’t be compelled to release emails from her private accounts. Even if she’s found to be a public body, he says her emails would still not be subject to disclosure.

Boise said discussion of the privacy and self-incrimination issues the Oregonian is challenging are premature because the judge first needs to decide whether Hayes is a public body. “The Oregonian is putting the cart before the horse,” Boise said.

Boise said Hayes has 117,000 emails on the three accounts in question. Of those, he said about 74,000 have already been released because they were sent to public email accounts of staff in the governor’s office.

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