Oregon secretary of state resigns over cannabis consulting contract

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Oregon’s secretary of state announced her resignation after it was revealed she held a lucrative and unusual side gig as a consultant for a cannabis company.

As Willamette Week first reported, Shemia Fagan, who took office in January 2021, signed in February what a spokesperson called “a limited consulting contract with Veriede Holding.”

Veriede Holding is an affiliate of La Mota, an Oregon retail chain that owes “at least $621,000” in back marijuana taxes, according to Willamette Week.

La Mota paid Fagan $10,000 a month plus a $30,000 bonus for every license the company secured outside of Oregon and New Mexico, according to the news outlet.

Fagan’s annual salary as secretary of state was $77,000.

The company’s principals also donated to Fagan’s 2020 election campaign, Willamette Week reported.

As secretary of state, Fagan oversaw the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission, which recently released a detailed audit of the state’s marijuana laws.

Fagan canceled the consulting contract over the weekend, even though she insisted the arrangement complied with state ethics laws.

With a formal ethics probe looming, she resigned, effective May 8.

“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.

“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.”