Kotek Releases More Information About First Lady’s Staff and Duties

First lady Aimee Kotek Wilson attends staff meetings and travels with state police protection.

Gov. Tina Kotek (right) and first lady Aimee Kotek Wilson. (Governor's office)

In response to questions from multiple media outlets, Gov. Tina Kotek’s office released more information this evening about the role of first lady Aimee Kotek Wilson.

The questions came after the high-profile departures March 22 of Kotek chief of staff Andrea Cooper and special adviser Abby Tibbs, along with the decision of her deputy chief of staff, Lindsey O’Brien, to go on leave.

Related: Governor’s Office Confirms That First Lady Has State-Paid Office Space and, Starting Monday, Staff

Multiple sources familiar with the situation told WW that the abrupt turnover stemmed from conflict over first lady Aimee Kotek Wilson’s role and influence in the office. The governor’s spokeswoman, Elisabeth Shepard, has declined to answer questions about the departures, terming it a confidential personnel matter.

But Shepard did provide more information today, in the form of an FAQ.

As WW previously reported, Kotek Wilson will have her own staffer, as of today. That staffer, Meliah Masiba, is moving over from the Oregon Department of Administrative Services on a six-month rotation. She will support Kotek Wilson but report to Kotek’s chief of staff (currently Chris Warner on an interim basis). Masiba’s salary, $143,808, will not change but will now be paid out of the governor’s office budget.

The cost of establishing an office of the first spouse has not yet been determined, nor has the Legislature been asked for funding.

Kotek Wilson has already been attending some staff meetings and scheduling meetings. That will continue, and she will also travel later this week to the National Governors Association’s First Spouses Retreat in Salt Lake City. Two state employees and the Oregon State Police dignitary protection unit will accompany her. The NGA will pay for most of the cost of the trip.

In legal terms, Kotek Wilson is classified as a public official, subject to Oregon government ethics laws. The Leglislature made that designation official in 2015 after Gov. John Kitzhaber resigned following an influence-peddling scandal centered on his fiancée, Cylvia Hayes. Hayes argued then she was not a public official.

Kotek Wilson will not be paid a salary or other compensation, but as of this month, Kotek’s office says, “the governor gave the Oregon State Police direction to consistently provide protective security to the first lady for events when she is representing the governor’s office.” That happens about once per month, Kotek’s office says.

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