In 1997, the current first lady of Oregon, Cylvia Hayes, received $5,000 to marry a man from Ethiopia who wanted to receive his green card.

During a news conference full of tears in Portland, Oregon, Hayes said that she made a big mistake in a period of her life that was unstable and difficult.

She said she wanted to be clear that at the time she associated with the wrong people and was struggling to put herself through college. At that time, she was offered the money in exchange for marriage to a young man who was trying to obtain his college degree but only if he was able to stay in the U.S.

The news conference, which was hastily called, followed a story in an Oregon paper that said marriage records indicated that Hayes married an Ethiopian immigrant in 1997 who was 11 years younger.

The article questioned whether Hayes’ marriage was legitimate or was to help the man remain in the U.S.

The man was identified as Abraham Abraham who at the time was 18. Hayes at that time was 29. The two filed for a divorce four years later in 2001. Hayes at the news conference said she and the man met just a few times and never actually lived together. Since the divorce became final, the two have not had contact of any kind, said Hayes.

The first lady of Oregon called the marriage wrong at that time and now and she said he was ready to accept any consequences of which she knows some will be life changing.

Hayes and John Kitzhaber the Governor of Oregon who is a Democrat are not married. However, the two have been a couple for the past decade. The office of the governor refers to Hayes as Oregon’s first lady.

In her news conference, Hayes said Kitzhaber did not know about her marriage until she told him when the story broke.

Local political pundits do not believe the incident will have any ill effect on Kitzhaber in his reelection bid next month.

The statute of limitations is up on criminal charges for Hayes, while civil charges could still be brought, but likely will not.

Get Analysts' Upgrades and Downgrades Daily - Enter your email address below to receive a concise daily summary of analysts' upgrades, downgrades and new coverage with's FREE daily email newsletter.