She's a glamorous presence, the fiancée of the Governor of Oregon. But these days, Cylvia Hayes finds herself at the center of a firestorm.
Hayes confessed, "Seventeen years ago, I made a serious mistake by committing an illegal act when I married a person so that he would obtain residency in the United States."
That's not something you hear everyday from a first lady.
Her revelation, that as a young woman she says she was paid $5,000 to marry an immigrant from Ethiopia, has sent Governor John Kitzhaber's re-election campaign for a historic fourth term into turmoil.
She said, "I am here to take responsibility and accept consequences for what I've done."
The man in question is Ethiopian-born Abraham Abraham.
Hayes married Abraham in 1997, allegedly to get him a Green Card. For that, she received $5,000.
"I was struggling to put myself through college and was offered money in exchange for marrying a young person," said Hayes.
They divorced after five years.
In an exclusive video, INSIDE EDITION found Abraham living in Silver Springs, Maryland.
In the video, we asked Abraham, "I just want to ask you about the marriage."
Abraham refused to comment on his ex-wife's admissions.
Kitzhaber, who is 20 years older than his fiancée, says he knew nothing about the marriage until a local Oregon newspaper revealed it.
He said, "It took a lot of courage to do that. It was the right thing to do. I support her and I'm very proud of her."
Hayes is also making another startling admission. She says she and an ex-boyfriend, Karl Topinka, bought a pot farm for $245,000 in 1997.
Her ex-boyfriend was quoted as saying, "She's sly. That was all her. I didn't want to be part of that at all." [Source: Daily Mail]
Conservative talk radio show host, Lars Larson, said, "I think people are floored by it because he's always had a relatively clean reputation, and now we find out that the person he's living with and apparently plans to marry has been involved in corrupt activities going back almost 20 years."
But pundits say, "Don't count the three-time Governor out."
Jim Moore, PhD of Pacific University told INSIDE EDITION, "Kitzhaber may take a hit but not a very big hit because people are going to vote for him. They're not voting for the first lady."
Hayes said, "It was a big mistake."