Gov. Kotek seeking opinion of ethics watchdog on role of first spouse – Salem Reporter:

Gov. Tina Kotek on Wednesday said she will seek guidance from the state’s government ethics watchdog about what is appropriate for the role of the first spouse in the governor’s office.

How does the top elected official not know this sort of thing, even in a general way, to avoid (1) multiple staff members resigning and (2) a potential ethics complaint? 

…Kotek said the office expects to send the questions to the Oregon Government Ethics Commission on Friday.

“We have been trying to figure that out,” Kotek said. “And I know that there are questions. So I wanted to let you all know today that we are working on a set of questions.”

Some for Kotek to consider sending to the Ethics Commission:

1. If I give my spouse a role other than ceremonial in my administration, is that a sufficient Valentine’s Day gift?

2. If a first spouse is alienating staff to the point of them resigning, is that bad? 

3. If we emphasize to the public that first spouse is an unpaid position, will that quell the firestorm I’ve created by enabling my significant other to have an outsized role in policy decisions? If not, what do you suggest?

4. Is it possible I’ve married poorly?

The announcement follows the resignation of Andrea Cooper, Kotek’s respected chief of staff and the departure of two other top officials: special adviser Abby Tibbs returned to Oregon Health & Science University, and Lindsey O’Brien, a longtime aide, is going on leave on Friday.

Some media outlets, like Willamette Week, reported that their departures are linked to an enhanced role in the office for Kotek’s wife, Aimee Kotek Wilson, who has a master’s in social work, has worked as a counselor and sits in on behavioral health meetings. Kotek Wilson, who is unpaid, has office space in the governor’s office, which is exploring the creation of a new “Office of the First Spouse.”

If three staff members are resigning, I guarantee you that Aimee Kotek Wilson has done a lot more than sit in on “behavioral health meetings.”  

UPDATE: “…Kotek’s office confirmed Kotek Wilson has attended behavioral health meetings, attends weekly meetings related to the governor’s schedule and travel, and occasionally attends events on behalf of the governor’s office.” Surprise, surprise.

Kotek declined to comment on the resignations or confirm if they are linked to concerns about the role of her wife.

I can help: Yes.

Under Oregon law, the governor’s spouse is a public official and required to submit a statement of economic interest that shows sources of income. Beyond that, Oregon law does not prescribe what the first spouse can do.

Generally, Oregon law shouldn’t have to, and I doubt any laws have been broken here. Instead, it speaks more to the quality of the individuals in question—and I don’t mean those resigning. Given that Kotek was widely considered on both sides of the aisle as untrustworthy during her time in the legislature, it’s not exactly stunning that other personality-related issues would emerge.