Oregon Sec. of State ends marijuana consulting contract, apologizes

Oregon Secretary of State Shemia Fagan has ended a private consulting job that has been at the center of controversy.
Published: May. 1, 2023 at 10:25 AM PDT
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SALEM, Ore. (KPTV) - Oregon Secretary of State Shemia Fagan has ended a private consulting job that has been at the center of controversy. It was recently revealed that Fagan had been working as a consultant for a chain of Oregon-based cannabis stores.

Fagan sent out a statement Monday morning, saying that she apologizes to Oregonians for what she called “poor judgement.”

In late February, Fagan took a consulting job with Veriede Holdings, LLC., an affiliate of the marijuana retain chain La Mota. Fagan has now terminated that position.

RELATED: Marijuana job lands Oregon Secretary of State in trouble

A copy of her consulting contract showed that she was being paid $10,000 a month and she could have earned a bonus of $35,000 if the company could earn a license in a state other than Oregon or New Mexico.

News of Fagan’s side job broke when the Oregon Secretary of State’s Office released an audit of the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission. The audit called for the OLCC to reform some rules for marijuana businesses, saying those rules are burdens when combined with federal restrictions on interstate commerce, banking, and taxation.

Fagan recused herself from the audit because of the consulting job, a side job that was not widely known. It came out that Veriede Holdings, LLC. is owned by some of Fagan’s political donors, which she acknowledged in her statement on Monday.

Hours after the audit was made public, some Republican lawmakers called on Fagan to step down, and Governor Tina Kotek has asked both the Oregon Government Ethics Commission and the Department of Justice to investigate the situation.

Fagan says that she complied will all state ethics guidelines in accepting the consulting job. Still, in her statement Monday, she did say it was a mistake to accept the position.

Fagan’s full statement:

“Today I am announcing that I have terminated my contract with Veriede Holdings, LLC.

“I owe the people of Oregon an apology. 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.

“Earlier this year, I began working for supplemental income, both at Willamette University Law School teaching a class and as an independent contractor consulting with Veriede Holding on the cannabis industry outside of Oregon. I diligently followed the Oregon Government Ethics Commission’s published guidelines for private employment of public officials, the same exact ethics rules I’ve followed for a decade, since I became a legislator in 2013. I look forward to the findings of the Oregon Government Ethics Commission because they will confirm that I followed Oregon ethics rules and laws. I am also eager for the Department of Justice’s review of the OLCC audit because the review will verify that hard-working auditors in the Oregon Audits Division conducted their work with independence and integrity.

“I’m holding a press conference today to answer questions and to own that there is a difference between following all the rules and doing nothing wrong. I broke your trust. That was wrong. I am truly sorry.

“My mission as Secretary of State continues to be to build trust. The first step to building trust is admitting that I broke it. I’ll spend the next two years rebuilding your trust in me and that starts today with releasing the contract that will be reviewed by the Government Ethics Commission.”