PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — When the news broke that Oregon Secretary of State Shemia Fagan will resign, KOIN 6 News was interviewing Rosa Cazares and Aaron Mitchell, the co-owners of La Mota cannabis. They are at the center of the ethics controversy that prompted Fagan to resign.

Last week Fagan’s consulting agreement with Veriede Holding LLC, an affiliate of the cannabis company La Mota, whose owners made campaign contributions to the secretary as well as other Oregon elected officials.

On Monday, Fagan held a press conference and said she “terminated my contract” with the marijuana company.

“I owe the people of Oregon an apology,” she said Monday. “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. 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.”

On Tuesday, she announced she will resign as Oregon Secretary of State on May 8.

‘Oh, no. Oh, no.’

At the moment the news was released, Cazares and Mitchell were talking with KOIN 6 News about how they knew Shemia Fagan. Below is a transcript of that moment during the exclusive KOIN 6 News interview:

La Mota co-owners Rosa Cazares and Aaron Mitchell talk with KOIN 6 News reporter Elise Haas, May 2, 2023 (KOIN)
La Mota co-owners Rosa Cazares and Aaron Mitchell talk with KOIN 6 News reporter Elise Haas, May 2, 2023 (KOIN)

Rosa Cazares: “We met Shemia Fagan when she made the decision to run for Secretary of State. We became friends. She coaches our daughter’s basketball team. She’s an awesome coach — very, very smart, confident. Again, I like to surround myself with people like that — I think it is important. And it just became a friendship and we’re growing our business outside of Oregon and we felt like her expertise was there. We know that she’s decided to step back from her work and we support her entirely.”

Aaron Mitchell: “I feel like we learned so much from her and we’re thankful for the time that she spent with us. And we support whatever decision she makes in the future.”

At this moment, a spokesperson with La Mota interrupted.

Spokesperson: “I apologize for stopping this. I think we need to break for just a second here because I just got a push alert and I apologize for doing this in the middle of the interview, but I feel like you’re going to need to capture some reaction. Shemia Fagan has resigned.”

Cazares: “Oh, no. Oh, no.”

Mitchell: “I definitely feel horrible for any negative light that has been shined on anyone that has worked with us or that we’ve donated to. We haven’t done anything wrong and they haven’t done anything wrong. There’s absolutely nothing for anyone to find. We don’t understand why we are being scrutinized or Shemia would be scrutinized for working with us. I don’t think this would be an issue if we were running a different kind of business, say chain restaurants. I think Oregon lost a great, great leader.”

Cazares: “I think I need a minute.” (She walked off-camera.)

KOIN 6 News investigated Cazares and Mitchell’s ownership of an abandoned house in Southeast Portland that was taken over by squatters.

Stay with KOIN 6 News for more information about Cazares, Mitchell and La Mota in the days ahead.