Oregon Secretary of State Shemia Fagan resigned Tuesday morning, less than a week after she admitted to WW she had been moonlighting as a consultant for an embattled cannabis company whose owners were major political donors to her campaign.
“Over the last few days, I have given myself some very hard feedback, spent time reflecting, and I have determined that the best thing I can do to support the people of this agency is to resign,” Fagan wrote to staff. “This is a really difficult decision, but I truly believe it is the best thing for our staff, state government and the people of Oregon.”
Gov. Tina Kotek now begins the process of selecting a replacement for Fagan. The governor will appoint a successor to serve out the remainder of Fagan’s term, which ends in January 2025.
Last Thursday, WW broke the news that Fagan was moonlighting as a consultant for two of her top donors, who are also the owners of the embattled dispensary chain La Mota. The owners have accrued more than $7 million in state and federal tax liens in recent years and been sued over two dozen times in Oregon courts, many of the complaints alleging unpaid bills.
Under intense pressure, Fagan released a copy on Monday of the contract with Veriede Holding LLC, whose principals are La Mota co-founders Rosa Cazares and Aaron Mitchell. It showed she was paid $10,000 a month by the company and offered an additional $30,000 bonus for every cannabis license obtained in states outside of New Mexico and Oregon.
Though Fagan apologized during a Monday press conference for her decision to take the contract, the apology came too late.
Kotek issued a statement on Fagan’s decision to leave the office she won in 2020.
“This morning, Secretary Fagan informed me of her decision to resign. I support this decision,” Kotek said. “It is essential that Oregonians have trust in their government. I believe this is a first step in restoring that trust. During the upcoming appointment process, my office will do everything possible to support the hardworking staff in the Secretary of State’s Office and ensure this will not disrupt the May 16 election.”