Oregon governor orders audit of her secretary of state for having consulting job with marijuana firm

"I'm very dismayed," Oregon Democrat Gov. Tina Kotek said upon learning Secretary of State Shemia Fagan has the consulting job.

Published: April 30, 2023 8:07pm

Updated: April 30, 2023 8:32pm

Oregon's Democrat governor has asked the state's ethics commission and Justice Department to investigate Secretary of State Shemia Fagan’s having a consulting job with a marijuana firm, saying she's "dismayed" by the revelations.

"I'm very dismayed,” Gov. Tina Kotek said at a press conference on the issue Saturday, two days after revelations about Fagan's consulting job, according to the Oregonian.

Fagan said in a statement she is "relieved that the governor has asked the [state's] DOJ and Government Ethics Commission to engage in fact finding because the facts will restore trust in our audits division and in me as your secretary of state."

Fagan, a Democrat, is a paid consultant of an affiliate of marijuana retail chain La Mota, according to the Associated Press.

Fagan's consulting job, which her office says does not violate state ethics laws, came into the spotlight Thursday after her office released an audit, from which she recused herself, of Oregon's marijuana regulators that called on them to “reform” some rules for marijuana businesses.

The audit was of the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission and also said some of the group's rules are  "burdens" when combined with federal restrictions on interstate commerce, banking and taxation, the wire service also reports.

Fagan's office said Fagan recused herself because she is a paid consultant of an affiliate of marijuana retail chain La Mota.

La Mota’s co-owner has hosted fundraisers for top Democratic Oregon politicians including Fagan.

The co-owner, her partner and their business allegedly owe $1.7 million in unpaid bills and more in state and federal taxes, a Portland weekly reports.

Fagan has not said how much the consultancy pays.

State Republican lawmakers are calling for her resignation. 

"This appears to be an ethics violation, and if it isn’t then Oregon’s ethics laws are broken," Senate Republican leader Tim Knopp and House Republican leader Vikki Breese-Iverson said in a joint statement, also according to the Associated Press.

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