SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregon Secretary of State Shemia Fagan announced her resignation on Tuesday amid sharp criticism from both Republicans and Democrats for having moonlighted as a highly-paid consultant to a marijuana business.
Fagan, a Democrat, apologized on Monday for working for the marijuana company, which has a record of unpaid bills and taxes, but indicated she intended to serve the remaining two years of her term. making the situation worse: Fagan worked for two months as a paid consultant for an affiliate of the company, La Mota, while her office was wrapping up an audit of Oregon’s pot regulator, the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission.
Fagan said she recused herself from the audit, but it was too much for politicians across the political spectrum to swallow. Republicans demanded she resign.
Fagan’s consulting job paid $10,000 per month, with bonuses three times that amount if she helped the company get licensed in other states. She announced on Monday that she quit that job, and on Tuesday bowed to pressure to leave her elected office too.
“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.
Gov. Tina Kotek, also a Democrat, said she supported Fagan’s decision.
“It is essential that Oregonians have trust in their government. I believe this is a first step in restoring that trust,” Kotek said.
Democratic leaders in the Legislature, where Fagan had served before being elected in 2020 to the state’s second-highest office, issued a joint statement minutes after Fagan announced her resignation, saying she needed to go.
“Secretary of State Fagan’s severe lapses of judgment eroded trust with the people of Oregon, including legislators who depend on the work of the Audits Division for vital information on public policy,” said House Speaker Dan Rayfield, Senate President Rob Wagner, House Majority Leader Julie Fahey and Senate Majority Leader Kate Lieber.
“This breach of trust became too wide for her to bridge. Her decision to resign will allow the state to move on and rebuild trust,” they said.
In a virtual press conference Monday, Fagan apologized for taking the outside job and attributed it to “poor judgment.”