Oregon First Lady admits to secret past marriage done for immigration fraud

Oregon First Lady admits to secret past marriage done for immigration fraud
(Image credit: Facebook/Cylvia Hayes)

Cylvia Hayes, who as the longtime girlfriend (and recently, fiancée) of Gov. John Kitzhaber (D) serves as the First Lady of Oregon, acknowledged Thursday that she had a previously unrevealed marriage to an Ethiopian national that was conducted purely for the purposes of immigration fraud. She was paid about $5,000 to participate in the sham marriage.

The false marriage occurred in 1997, when Hayes was 29; the Ethiopian immigrant, named Abraham B. Abraham, was 18 years old. Their later divorce was finalized in 2002. "Not long after the divorce, Abraham went on to graduate magna cum laude with a degree in mathematics from Greensboro College in North Carolina," The Oregonian reports. "He currently owns a two-story home in a suburb of Washington, D.C."

The story was first revealed late Wednesday by Willamette Week. This discovery apparently stemmed from court records showing she had been married three times — her official biography said she had only been married twice.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.

SUBSCRIBE & SAVE
https://cdn.mos.cms.futurecdn.net/flexiimages/jacafc5zvs1692883516.jpg

Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

Hayes likely won't face serious legal repercussions, an immigration attorney told The Oregonian, as the statute of limitations for the offense expired five years after the marriage was first entered upon.

"This was a difficult and unstable period in my life," said Hayes, in a lengthy statement published Thursday by The Oregonian. "I was struggling to put myself through college and was offered money in exchange for marrying a young person who had a chance to get a college degree himself if he were able to remain in the United States." Because she "was ashamed and embarrassed" over the fraudulent marriage," she added, "I did not share this information even with John once we met and started dating."

Watch the video clip below, from a very shaken Hayes at a press conference earlier today --Eric Kleefeld

To continue reading this article...
Continue reading this article and get limited website access each month.
Get unlimited website access, exclusive newsletters plus much more.
Cancel or pause at any time.
Already a subscriber to The Week?
Not sure which email you used for your subscription? Contact us