The Oregon Department of Justice has hired a California consulting firm to conduct an investigation into the audit former Secretary of State Shemia Fagan oversaw of the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission—even as she took a lucrative consulting job with a cannabis outfit at odds with those regulators.
That moonlighting, when reported by WW, brought an abrupt end to Fagan’s promising political career. And the validity of the audit came under intense questioning when WW broke the news April 27 that Fagan had in February accepted a $10,000-a-month consulting contract with the founders of the second-largest dispensary chain in the state, La Mota—and helped shape the audit around the desires of La Mota’s CEO, Rosa Cazares. Fagan resigned May 2.
The DOJ hired Sjoberg Evashenk Consulting in May to conduct the investigation into the audit and whether it’s an objective document free of undue influence. The state will pay the firm up to $60,000 for the investigation.
One of the primary duties of the secretary of state is to oversee audits of state agencies. Records released last month by the state show that Fagan recused herself from the OLCC audit so she could take the La Mota contract, but did so after the audit was already completed. Those records also show that Fagan as early as January 2021 pressed staff at the Audits Division to speak with Cazares about the scope of the audit. Cazares subsequently told audit staff in 2022 that the believed the OLCC to be sexist, punitive and unfair to communities of color.
A spokesperson for the DOJ says the firm has begun its work.