BY George C. Upper III, The Western JournalMay 4, 2023
5 months ago

Dem Tasked with Auditing Cannabis Industry Resigns After It's Revealed Who Was Paying Her $10K a Month

A Democratic state attorney general who was once considered all but a shoo-in for higher elected office will instead be unemployed by Monday.

Oregon Secretary of State Shemia Fagan announced Tuesday that she would resign effective May 8, according to Oregon Public Broadcasting, after a Monday report from the Willamette Week that said she was being paid $10,000 monthly by "embattled cannabis company" La Mota.

The Audits Division of Fagan's office had previously been involved in an audit of the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission, which regulated cannabis companies like La Mota.

Fagan had recused herself from that audit, but did so "more than a year after she’d urged auditors to incorporate La Mota CEO Rosa Cazares’ concerns into their work and after the audit was all but finished," the Week reported.

“I owe the people of Oregon an apology," Fagan said in a statement when she released, under pressure, her contract with La Mota. "I exercised poor judgment by contracting with a company that is owned by my significant political donors and is regulated by an agency that was under audit by my Audits Division.

“I am sorry for harming the trust that I’ve worked so hard to build with you over the last few years, and I will spend the next two years working hard to rebuild it," she added, referring, presumably to the approximately two years remaining in her term as secretary of state.

Fagan said that she was cancelling the contract, which the Week said was apparently indefinite, with no end date stated.

A day later, however, she announced her resignation, claiming that she had only been "trying to make ends meet for my family."


“While I am confident that the ethics investigation will show that I followed the state’s legal and ethical guidelines in trying to make ends meet for my family, it is clear that my actions have become a distraction from the important and critical work of the Secretary of State’s office,” Fagan said in a statement Tuesday.

“Protecting our state’s democracy and ensuring faith in our elected leaders -- these are the reasons I ran for this office. They are also the reasons I will be submitting my resignation today.”

Fagan received a $77,000 annual salary as secretary of state, about 10 percent more than the average Portland resident brings in.

According to ZipRecruiter data, the average salary in Portland is just under $70,000, roughly on par with the U.S. as a whole.

The contract specified a $10,000 monthly base, with $30,000 bonuses for "each license she helped the affiliate of La Mota obtain outside the states of Oregon and New Mexico," the Week reported.

What, exactly, Fagan was doing to earn that money was hard to establish.

Fagan told the Week that she spent only "minimal" time in her contract role. Her bar license as an employment attorney is inactive, the outlet said, which would prohibit her offering legal advice to the company.

She also has "no prior experience" in the area, the Week said.

Fagan's chief of staff, Emily McLain, also tendered her resignation, but offered to remain in her current role until the current legislative session ends -- though she "made clear she reserved the right to change her mind," Oregon Public Broadcasting said.

Fagan's deputy, Cheryl Myers, will serve as acting secretary of state until Gov. Tina Kotek appoints a successor.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

Written by: George C. Upper III, The Western Journal



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