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Gov. Tina Kotek on Shemia Fagan's side job consulting with a cannabis company

Kotek was visiting Multnomah County Saturday. While it wasn't the purpose of her visit, she addressed questions involving the Secretary of State.
Credit: KGW

PORTLAND, Ore. — Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek addressed questions regarding Secretary of State Shemia Fagan's side job as a consultant for the owners of a troubled marijuana dispensary chain, while overseeing a state audit on cannabis regulation, at a press conference in Portland Saturday. Kotek was on her ninth stop of her One Oregon Listening Tour. 

"I'm certainly very dismayed by the press reports about what's been going on with the Secretary of State, and her relationship with her outside work," said Kotek. 

On Thursday, the Willamette Week reported that Fagan started working for the owners of La Mota in February. The company and associated businesses have racked up millions of dollars in unpaid taxes and face numerous lawsuits for not paying their bills, according to court records. Simultaneously, Rosa Cazares and Aaron Mitchell, owners of La Mota made big donations to top Democrats, including Fagan. 

Kotek said she spoke with Fagan on Friday. "I let her know that I was concerned by the news reports."

As Secretary of State Fagan oversees state audits, which included the audit of Oregon’s regulations on the cannabis industry — the very industry in which she’s been hired to act a as a consultant. 

Prior to Fagan taken the role as a consultant, she reached out to a State Ethics Investigator asking for clarity on conflicts of interest. Oregon law bars public officials from using their positions for personal gain. Fagan did not seek a formal opinion from the State Ethics Commission. 

In a statement Friday evening, Kotek called for the Oregon Government Ethics Commission to investigate Fagan's actions and for the Oregon Department of Justice to look into a recent audit of cannabis industry regulations.

"It’s critical that Oregonians trust their government," Kotek said in a statement. "That is why I am urging the Oregon Government Ethics Commission to immediately investigate this situation. Additionally, I am requesting that the Oregon Department of Justice examine the Secretary of State’s recently released audit of the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission (OLCC) and its cannabis program."

"I want to make sure that when we read that audit, we are confident those results are base on good auditing practices and looking at performance," she said.

Kotek said it's safest to have a strong firewall between work that's in your office and what you do personally.

"I don't have outside employment. I only have one job," she said. "I can't speak to what anyone else does."

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