The United States Attorney’s Office issued a subpoena Jan. 29 to the Oregon Bureau of Labor & Industries, asking for records related to the agency’s $500,000 grant to a cannabis nonprofit in the fall of 2022, while BOLI was under the leadership of Val Hoyle, now a member of Congress.
The subpoena appears to be connected to the federal criminal inquiry into the relationship between former Secretary of State Shemia Fagan and the co-founders of the embattled La Mota cannabis chain, Aaron Mitchell and Rosa Cazares. The feds launched the investigation last summer after Fagan resigned from office in May following WW’s reporting that she had signed a $10,000-a-month contract with the cannabis duo, who had become influential campaign donors to Oregon’s top Democrats.
BOLI was not one of the five agencies initially subpoenaed by the feds at the onset of the criminal investigation last summer.
But the Jan. 29 subpoena shows that the feds have broadened their inquiry and now may be looking at the relationship between the troubled cannabis moguls and another politician: U.S. Rep. Val Hoyle (D-Ore.).
A spokeswoman for Hoyle, Shamma Matalbert, says the congresswoman has “never been contacted by the feds, or any other law enforcement agency, on La Mota, [the nonprofit] ENDVR, or anything related.”
As WW reported in a series of stories last year, Hoyle helped shepherd a $500,000 grant to Endeavor, a nonprofit with no track record of work that had been co-founded by Cazares, in the fall of 2022 for a cannabis apprenticeship. Hoyle diverged from the usual public process to ensure that Endeavor could qualify for the grant—even though, as WW would later report, the apprenticeship program the nonprofit pitched was never legally viable in the first place.
Current BOLI administration clawed back the unused grant funding from Endeavor on March 29, just hours after WW published its initial cover story on Cazares and Mitchell, who had become prominent political donors to Oregon’s top Democrats for the previous three years despite having racked up millions in state and federal tax liens.)
The Jan. 29 subpoena asks that BOLI provide all records—including meeting notes, audio recordings, documents and other communications—related to Endeavor receiving the half-million-dollar grant. The subpoena asks for records related to five people integral to the nonprofit: Rosa Cazares and Aaron Mitchell, the co-founders of La Mota; Laura Vega, the co-founder of Endeavor alongside Cazares and a former employee of La Mota; Mary Allen, La Mota’s bookkeeper for years now; and Fred Voelkel, the former chief operating officer for La Mota.