Secretary of State of Oregon, Shemi Faganhas raised concerns after striking a consulting agreement with a subsidiary of troubled cannabis dispensary chain La Mota, whose owners are under scrutiny by several state agencies.
Fagan’s auditors are currently reviewing the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission‘s dealings with the cannabis industry, but has withdrawn from involvement in the review.
“Secretary Fagan withdrew from the OLCC review on February 15 because she planned to enter into a limited consulting agreement with Veriede Holding LLC (a subsidiary of La Mota),” spokesman Ben Morris said called. “The contract with [Veriede] began February 20, 2023 and is intended for projects outside of Oregon.”
However, her decision to work as a private consultant while serving as a civil servant has raised eyebrows.
Although Oregon’s ethics laws allow officials to take on a side hustle, Fagan’s contract with Veriede Holding LLC, which is affiliated with La Mota, has led some to question whether it poses a potential conflict of interest.
According to Willamette Week, Veriede’s contract with Fagan prescribes that they will “adhere to the guidelines for officials,” but since La Mota’s owners hold licenses for farms, wholesale operations and pharmacies, some are concerned that Fagan’s work with Veriede could be problematic.
The Oregon Treasury Department has also filed over $1.5 million in liens against the companies’ owners, Rosa Cazares and Aaron Mitchell, for unpaid taxes, including over $592,000 in marijuana sales taxes.
In related news, Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer urges for the Small Business Tax Equity Act, which aims to change that IRS code to allow federally legal cannabis companies to make federal tax deductions.