Oregon Secretary of State Shemia Fagan this morning released a copy of her contract with an embattled cannabis company that shows it’s paying her significantly more than her state salary.
The contract included a base payment of $10,000 a month with additional bonuses of $30,000 for each license she helped the affiliate of La Mota obtain outside the states of Oregon and New Mexico.
Fagan has said the amount of time she spent on the contract was “minimal,” but it was far more lucrative than her state salary of $77,000, or about $6,420 a month.
It is unclear from the contract what Fagan’s consulting work consisted of, but one clause shows that the contract is indefinite—there is no explicit ending date. Her professional background is as an employment lawyer but her bar license is inactive so she could not provide her client legal advice. She has no prior experience in the cannabis industry.
As WW reported yesterday, Fagan faced financial struggles when she won election to the secretary of state’s office in 2020. In her position, she is responsible for ensuring the integrity of the state’s elections and auditing state agencies. The bonus clause in the contract with Veriede Holding LLC, the affiliate of La Mota, Oregon’s second largest cannabis company, gives Fagan a powerful incentive to put moonlighting ahead of her day job.
She announced this morning, however, she is terminating the contract.
Fagan released a copy of the consulting contract under pressure and added an apology. When she signed the contract in February, she recused herself from an audit of the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission, the agency that regulates cannabis. That recusal came more than a year after she’d urged auditors to incorporate La Mota CEO Rosa Cazares’ concerns into their work and after the audit was all but finished. Fagan chose to take the consulting contract rather than fulfill her duties to oversee the Audits Division.
“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,” Fagan said. “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.”
Fagan signed the consulting contract without first seeking written approval from the Oregon Government Ethics Commission, a step public officials routinely take before engaging in activity that might violate ethics laws.
Fagan will answer questions later this morning for the first time since WW first reported her consulting contract April 27.