Oregon Government Ethics Commission Receives Complaint About Governor and First Lady

The allegations in the complaint are not yet a matter of public record.

TEAM KOTEK: Tina Kotek, center, was accompanied by her wife Aimee Wilson, right, as Kotek was sworn in as Oregon governor at the state Capitol building in Salem, Ore., on Monday, Jan. 9, 2023. (Dave Killen/The Oregonian/Pool photography)

The Oregon Government Ethics Commission today confirmed that it has received a complaint related to the role of first lady Aimee Kotek Wilson in the office of her wife, Gov. Tina Kotek.

As WW has reported, Kotek’s chief of staff, Andrea Cooper, and two other senior staff members abruptly left the governor’s office last week. Several sources familiar with the inner workings of that office have told WW on background that the departures are related to a conflict between the governor and her staff over the role of Kotek Wilson. The first lady, who holds a master’s degree in social work and has practiced as a clinician, has attended some staff meetings on the topic of behavioral health, one of the governor’s top priorities.

Although Oregon law does not define a role or funding for the first lady, Kotek has moved a staff member from the Oregon Department of Administrative Services to support Kotek Wilson—and, as of March 25, has given her an office in the governor’s crowded suite of offices and upgraded her security with the Oregon State Police dignitary protection unit. Kotek Wilson is acting as an unpaid volunteer, and there is no evidence she is seeking to benefit financially from her role in the governor’s office.

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

Nonetheless, an unknown person filed a complaint today with the OGEC, which enforces state ethics laws. Those laws prohibit conflicts of interest and the use of public office for personal gain, among other things.

In response to a query from WW, OGEC executive director Susan V. Myers acknowledged her agency had received a complaint but declined to provide details.

“Per ORS 244.260(4)(c), I can confirm that a complaint has been received,” Myers told WW in an email. “Beyond that, I cannot provide any information regarding the complaint.”

Elisabeth Shepard, a spokeswoman for the governor, says Kotek’s office has not yet seen the complaint.

“We will review and respond to any complaint upon receipt, consistent with Oregon state ethics laws,” Shepard says. “We have no further comment, as this is a pending complaint.”

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