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Jonathan Cooper joining AP's Sacramento staff

Jonathan J. Cooper, state government reporter for The Associated Press in Oregon who scored a series of beats last year as scandal engulfed Gov. John Kitzhaber, is joining the AP's bureau in Sacramento.

Cooper will move to California in January and focus on health care, pensions and the state budget.

"Jonathan is a great addition to the Sacramento staff," said West Region Editor Traci Carl, who oversees news coverage for 13 states. "He's a strong source reporter and aggressive seeker of public records, areas where the Sacramento bureau has excelled for years."

Cooper has been the AP's primary state government reporter in Oregon for five years, responsible for all areas of legislative and political coverage. He distinguished himself with health care coverage, notably the failed rollout of Oregon's $300 million health insurance exchange.

The fall of Kitzhaber, the state's longest-serving governor, was the political story of 2015 in Oregon and Cooper was in the thick of it throughout. Kitzhaber resigned a month after being sworn in for his fourth term in January, brought down by corruption allegations involving his fiancée, Cylvia Hayes, a consultant for advocacy groups.

Just before the resignation, Cooper was first to report that Secretary of State Kate Brown, next in line to the governorship, was flying back to Oregon from Washington, D.C., at Kitzhaber's request. He reported exclusively that Kitzhaber told aides he would quit, but changed his mind.

When Kitzhaber finally decided to step down, Cooper reported it ahead of the official announcement.
Cooper joined the AP in 2009 in Phoenix, where he covered Arizona state government and U.S. Sen. John McCain's difficult primary race. He also reported extensively on efforts by tea party activists to exert influence on establishment Republicans.

Cooper, 28, is a native of Des Moines, Iowa, and grew up in Tempe, Arizona. He's a graduate of Arizona State University, where he was a reporter for the student newspaper and a university-run news service. During his junior year he interned in Washington, D.C., for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.


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