Two Oregon state senators last week sent a letter to U.S. Attorney for Oregon Natalie K. Wight asking that she open a formal investigation into corruption in the state capitol related to campaign donations from cannabis operators in the state.
The letter, sent to Wight by Sen. Brian J. Boquist (I) and Art Robinson (R), describes the donations made to state Sen. Rob Wagner (D), Gov. Tina Kotek (D), and former Secretary of State Shemia Fagan and others, as “large cash donations” in excess of $10,000 from “federally illegal drug operations.”
Fagan earlier this month resigned from her position after reports emerged that she was also serving as a consultant for a cannabis company that had also contributed funds to her campaign. Fagan ultimately resigned from that position and announced a day later that she would step down as secretary of state.
The claims in the letter hinge on a May 10 Willamette Week report that outlines the campaign donations made by Rosa Cazares and Aaron Mitchell, the operators of La Mota, the dispensary that Fagan had worked as a consultant for, to Kotek and Wagner. In all, the pair, along with a political action committee controlled by Cazares, gave more than $200,000 to top Democrats in the state, including $68,000 to Kotek, $10,000 to Wagner, and $45,000 to Fagan, the report says. The report adds that staffers picked up the cash donations.
“As you know, federal law requires a variety of reporting for all cash transactions exceeding $10,000 inclusive of cashier’s checks, bank drafts, traveler’s check or money orders. The law has different requirements at different levels as to whom and how this illegal drug cash is reported. Then there is a combined $12,000 yearly limit reporting requirement as well. It is alleged ‘staff’ picked up bundles of cash? State employees?” — Boquist and Robinson in the letter
While the letter names only Wagner, Koeck, and Fagan, it alleges other state senators and representatives, the state treasurer, Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Control (OLCC) commissioner, U.S. reps, the district attorney, and “partisan political groups” also received cannabis cash for their campaigns and describes the scandal as “simply the tip of the iceberg in the Legislative Assembly and Oregon State Capitol.”
The letter also notes that the OLCC is embroiled in a scandal related to the diversion of rare Kentucky bourbon by agency officials and claims state Attorney General Ellen F. Rosenblum “is on both sides of the secret investigation” and calls for Wight to intervene in that inquiry.
Get daily cannabis business news updates. Subscribe