PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Following possible ethical violations, federal investigators are digging into records linked to former Secretary of State Shemia Fagan and the owners of La Mota, a local cannabis chain.
The subpoenas are wide-ranging, requesting documents from five departments related to Fagan and La Mota owners Rosa Cazares and Aaron Mitchell.
The U.S. Department of Justice sent subpoenas to Oregon’s Department of Administrative Services, Department of Revenue, Government Ethics Commission, OLCC and the Secretary of State’s Office.
However, the scope of the federal investigation is unclear.
KOIN 6 reached out to Rosa Cazares for a comment, but has yet to hear back.
During an exclusive interview with KOIN 6 in May, Cazares and Mitchell said they donated thousands of dollars to Fagan and others – including Gov. Tina Kotek.
“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,” Mitchell said. “We haven’t done anything wrong and they haven’t done anything wrong. …I think Oregon lost a great, great leader.”
They also said they thought the scrutiny they were facing was unfair because donating to campaigns is “a common practice” for companies.
“Thousands of companies in Oregon contribute to politics,” Mitchell said. “We don’t understand why, as cannabis operators, we’re being scrutinized.”
Fagan resigned on May 2, and in a letter to Gov. Kotek, said she legally did nothing wrong despite the ethical concerns sparked by her paid consulting contract for Veride Holding LLC – an affiliate of La Mota — while her office was auditing the OLCC.
“While I am confident that the ethics investigation will show that I followed the state’s legal and ethical guidelines in trying to make ends meet for my family, it is clear that my actions have become a distraction from the important and critical work of the Secretary of State’s Office,” Fagan said in the letter.
The secretary voluntarily recused herself from the audit, which looked into the OLCC’s regulation of the state’s cannabis industry and concluded that Oregon’s laws are hindering cannabis businesses.
Following the controversy, 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. “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.”
The ethics investigation is still ongoing. Its first report is due before the commission by July 14.
If the documents are provided in time, the Department of Justice told KOIN 6 that no one will need to attend the grandy jury scheduled for June 21.
Public records obtained by KOIN 6 News also showed that Mitchell had filed for a permit to turn a Hazelwood property into a dispensary in 2020 and left the house abandoned.
The derelict property caused distress for the surrounding Hazelwood neighborhood and drained emergency resources until it was demolished on May 24.
Stay with KOIN 6 as this story develops.