Chief of Staff and Two Other Top Aides to Leave Kotek’s Office

Andrea Cooper, Lindsey O’Brien and Abby Tibbs have been been key members of the governor’s team.

Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek on election night 2022. (Brian Burk)

Gov. Tina Kotek’s staff is about to look very different.

Kotek announced Friday morning that her chief of staff, Andrea Cooper, is leaving March 29. That’s an abrupt exit for Cooper, a former Service Employees International Union official who served as deputy chief of staff for previous Gov. Kate Brown.

“I thank Andrea for bringing her experience to help lead my office during a whirlwind transition in the first year of my administration,” Gov. Kotek said. “We have all accomplished significant things for Oregonians, and she was instrumental in establishing a strong team of professionals. I wish her well in her future endeavors.” Deputy chief of staff Chris Warner will assume Cooper’s duties until Kotek hires a permanent replacement.

Also leaving Kotek’s office, according to spokeswoman Elisabeth Shepard: Abby Tibbs, who serves as “special adviser” to Kotek. Tibbs has shuttled between the governor’s office—like Cooper, she also worked for Brown—and Oregon Health & Science University, where she has held a variety of positions. She will return to OHSU on March 31.

In addition, Lindsey O’Brien, deputy chief of staff for public engagement, is going on leave April 5. O‘Brien served in a variety of positions in Kotek’s office when she was speaker of the House. It is unclear whether she will return.

Updated at 5:13 pm: Three people familiar with the situation tell WW that Cooper’s departure came after she grew increasingly uncomfortable with the role of Aimee Kotek Wilson, the governor’s wife. Her disagreement with Kotek on the first lady’s level of involvement in the governor’s office led to Cooper’s departure, Tibbs’ departure and O’Brien’s decision to take leave.

Kotek Wilson, who holds a master’s degree in social work, has reportedly taken part in policy meetings involving behavioral health and the future of Measure 110, and sought a greater level of support, including having her own staff. (Unlike some states, Oregon does not fund staff for the governor’s spouse or significant other.)

Elisabeth Shepard, Kotek’s spokeswoman, declined to comment on the staff changes. None of the three departing staffers could be reached for comment.

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