When news broke that conservative Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell had accepted some gifts from a vitamin company executive, the federal government was quick to swoop down and indict the rising star of the Republican Party. McDonnell was originally found guilty of corruption, but the case was ultimately tossed by the Supreme Court, which found that he did no favors on behalf of his friend.
Although the politically-motivated Department of Justice already faced an embarrassing loss on this case, the U.S. attorney wants to put McDonnell on trial again. The DOJ is currently mulling the decision, but it is believed that the government will indeed torment McDonnell and his family with another trial.
As the DOJ continues with its futile efforts to convict a conservative politician on no evidence, liberal Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber appears to be skating by despite there being clear proof that he used the power of his pulpit to help his fiancé gain government contracts. Although he was forced to resign from office in disgrace, Kitzhaber has yet to be indicted. Instead of criticizing his actions, former White House officials have lauded Kitzhaber as a national hero, and the Obamacare advocate has begun a speaking tour to detail the need for more government involvement in our health care system.
Does anyone really believe that justice is blind?
The Kitzhaber case, unlike the McDonnell case, appears to be a cut and dry example of corruption and judicial disparity. Kitzhaber was an advocate of green energy and his fiancé, Cylvia Hayes, represented several of these companies seeking government handouts and contracts. Kitzhaber told his staff members that state policy should reflect the position of those paying his girlfriend, and they obliged.
In a memo to state employees, Kitzhaber wrote:
"Cylvia needs to be advocating the same clean economy policy in her role as spokesperson/advocate for the Governor's Office and her role as a Clean Economy fellow. There cannot be any daylight between them. This is another reason why she needs a role in developing the (state) policy itself."
As OregonLive reported, Kitzhaber inserted this request into a memo that was drafted by his staff to govern Hayes' participation in the governor's office.
Hayes has said she took $118,000 over two years from the Clean Economy Development Center, a national advocacy group. The records now show that Kitzhaber rejected his staff's advice on addressing ethical concerns over that arrangement.
The paper also noted that three law professors said the memo should boost the odds that Kitzhaber is indicted.
Laurie Levenson, a former federal prosecutor who is a professor at Loyola Law School, said the memo appears to show Kitzhaber saying, "she's working for them, and we better put her in a role where she can deliver."
Ben Gaskins, an assistant professor of political science at Lewis & Clark College, said that "the email shows Kitzhaber not only tacitly endorsed Hayes' work in his office, but also required it. He is directing that this connection continue and be the official stance of his administration."
Hayes operated a Bend consulting firm specializing in renewable energy when Kitzhaber took office in 2011 for his third term. Kitzhaber designated her first lady and placed her in a powerful role as a government policy adviser. Kitzhaber then sent the infamous August 2011 e-mail regarding Hayes' policy work to Robinhold, his then chief of staff:
"We were really in uncharted waters in 2011, and staff was working with the governor to clarify the role of the first lady," Robinhold told The Oregonian/OregonLive. "We worked hard to address and avoid potential conflicts as we understood them."
That work was still underway in September 2011 when Hayes took on the paid fellowship with the Clean Economy Development Center.
Kitzhaber subsequently teamed Hayes with his top aides to develop a "clean economy" policy that focused on industry and jobs with low environmental impact. In October 2011, he appointed Hayes to a task force to create his 10-year energy action plan.
If the conservative-leaning McDonnell had instructed his staff to allow his friends to make official policy of the state, there is no doubt he would be spending years behind bars. Yet Kitzhaber — a green energy champion and darling of the Obama Administration — remains free as a bird. In fact, he is now on the campaign trail praising Obamacare and urging for more government health care.
Let's not forget that this charlatan was also responsible for CoverOregon, the worst failure of the Obamacare state exchanges. CoverOregon was riddled with fraud and lavish spending. At the end of the day, the healthcare exchange failed to sign up a single enrollee before Kitzhaber pulled the plug on the program. In all, Kitzhaber's mismanagement cost taxpayers $300 million.
Whether Kitzhaber ever sees the inside of a courthouse remains to be seen. But thus far it seems clear that the United States has adopted a two-tiered system of justice – one for conservatives like Bob McDonnell and another for liberals like Hillary Clinton and John Kitzhaber. Both houses of Congress' Committee on the Judiciary should act now to investigate this clear judicial disparity and explore ways to rectify the problem at hand.
Shepard Stewart is a freelance political writer based in Washington, D.C. Thinking of submitting an op-ed to the Washington Examiner? Be sure to read our guidelines on submissions.