This could get expensive!

Taxpayers on the hook for Cylvia Hayes’ legal fees

The Oregonian – March 20, 2015 …

Taxpayers will foot the bill for Cylvia Hayes’ defense in the federal investigation into the former first lady and her fiancee, John Kitzhaber.

Hayes is now being represented by two federal public defenders — Lisa Hay and Jerry Needham — in the influence-peddling investigation by the FBI and the IRS targeting Hayes and Kitzhaber.

Attorneys familiar with such cases say Hayes’ defense likely will be costly and there’s no cap on such a bill. Yet in other cases through the years, public defenders have billed defendants for some or all of the charges accrued.

Portland criminal defense attorney Whitney Boise had represented Hayes since October after news emerged she had accepted $5,000 to marry an Ethiopian immigrant seeking a green card.

Boise will continue to represent her in the near-term in her lawsuit filed against The Oregonian/OregonLive to block the release of Hayes’ emails related to her role as a state policy adviser and first lady on several of her personal accounts.

Hayes’ has been under scrutiny for accepting paid consulting contracts centered on the very policy issues that she pushed in her roles as first lady and as an adviser to Kitzhaber.

Questions also have been raised about her tax filings. Hayes disclosed earlier this year that she accepted $118,000 — $30,000 in 2011 and $88,000 in 2012 — for a fellowship with the Clean Economy Development Center. Yet those figures didn’t match tax filings she provided to The Oregonian/OregonLive that showed she claimed income of $27,361 in 2012.

There are no strict income limits to qualify for a federal public defender. Courts ultimately make the call and typically base decisions on a defendant’s resources and the anticipated cost of their defense.

Typically, federal fraud investigations are costly. “You have to keep in mind that a complex case with multiple crimes and multiple potential charges can be incredibly expensive,” said Steven Wax, Oregon’s former federal public defender, pointing out that good criminal attorneys in Portland charge between $350 and $500 an hour. “Cylvia’s situation could be incredibly expensive.”

A U.S. District Court judge in Oregon made the determination on Hayes, but Hay wouldn’t comment on which judge it was or when she began working for Hayes.

Hayes would have had to apply for a public defender and likely, complete a financial affidavit — all of which would be confidential, as with the rest of the federal investigation.

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