Last week, Shemia Fagan resigned as Oregon Secretary of State after receiving significant criticism for taking up a job as a consultant to a cannabis company while her office was concluding an audit of the state’s Liquor and Cannabis Commission. During her announcement, Fagan apologized for working for the business, pointing out that while she had planned to finish her term, it had been an honor to serve the people of Oregon.
She also highlighted that ethics guidelines permitted outside employment, noting that consulting for La Mota wasn’t a conflict of interest as any actions taken on account of the audit would be by the cannabis commission, legislature or governor. Fagan added that any changes in regulation would have also affected many businesses, not just her client. However, she continued, she had exercised poor judgment by working with a business regulated by an entity under audit by her division.
The consulting job is said to have paid her $10,000 a month, with added bonuses for every license she assisted the affiliate of La Mota acquire outside Oregon.
The salary of the secretary of state stands at $77,000 per annum, a low sum, particularly for the office’s tasks, which include auditing state agencies and overseeing elections. Results of the audit, which were released the week before, demanded that the state’s cannabis regulatory agency make changes to some of the rules for cannabis businesses.
Fagan isn’t the first to resign or leave the secretary of state post in Oregon. In fact, two recent secretaries have vacated their four-year term — one because of a death in office and one because the governor resigned and was replaced by the secretary of state. A successor to Fagan will be appointed by Governor Tina Kotek, who stated that she supported Fagan’s decision to resign from her elected office.
Following Fagan’s resignation announcement, Democratic leaders in the legislature released a joint statement declaring that Fagan needed to go. Those leaders included Senate Majority Leader Kate Lieber, Senate President Rob Wagner, House Speaker Dan Rayfield and House Majority Leader Julie Fahey. The statement noted that Fagan’s serious lapses of judgment had destroyed trust with the residents of Oregon, including lawmakers who depended on the work of the Audits Division for important information on public policy. They observed that her resignation would allow the state to rebuild trust and move forward.
Prior to being elected to the position in 2020, Fagan served as a Democratic member of the Oregon Senate.
As the marijuana industry continues its growth trajectory and blips such as this one are avoided, more cultivators will join the space to meet the growing demand for marijuana. By extension, more cultivation equipment, such as the microgardens commercialized by enterprises such as Advanced Container Technologies Inc. (OTC: ACTX), will be sold and revenues earned.
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