It is extremely unusual for Oregon statewide elected officials to moonlight, not only because carrying out so raises hard ethical thoughts, but also for the reason that their day positions can be all-consuming. That makes Secretary of State Shemia Fagan’s decision to get a consulting deal with the troubled hashish firm La Mota all the far more perplexing.
“It’s not popular for leading elected officials to be moonlighting for corporations, specifically a firm that they have a hand in regulating,” says Chris Koski, professor of political science and environmental scientific studies at Reed University. Koski suggests he’s hardly ever witnessed something rather like this from a best Oregon elected. “It’s abnormal.”
Given that getting place of work in 2021, Fagan, 41, has experienced her hands total. As the state’s leading elections official, she has presided throughout a time of heightened scrutiny of ballot integrity, subsequent the hotly contested 2020 presidential contest.
She’s had to make some hard phone calls, these kinds of as her decision—upheld by the Oregon Supreme Court—that the journalist Nicholas Kristof did not satisfy Oregon’s residency requirements to run for governor past yr.
Fagan has also overseen a lot of condition audits and her agency’s Company Division, which registers providers that do small business in Oregon. And since Oregon is just a single of five states that do not have lieutenant governors, she is a heartbeat or resignation absent from remaining Oregon’s next governor (then-Secretary of State Kate Brown grew to become governor in February 2015 thanks to the resignation of her predecessor, Gov. John Kitzhaber, subsequent the succession method outlined in the Oregon Constitution.)
So why may she have taken on a consulting agreement with La Mota, whose owners drove all around in Mercedes’ and Ferraris, and lived in a West Hills mansion wherever they threw political fundraisers for Fagan and other top Democrats?
Courtroom records exhibit that when Fagan ran for secretary of condition in 2020, her personal monetary situation was dire.
In a March 13, 2020 submitting in Clackamas County Court associated to her divorce there, Fagan disclosed income of $5,550 a thirty day period from her get the job done as a point out senator and as an work law firm.
But the mother of two was expending far more than that, she documented: $5,889 for every month. (A renter, she paid out $1,974 for every month). At the time, she was locked in a a few-way race for the Democratic nomination for secretary of state with then-Sen. Mark Hass (D-Beaverton) and the law firm and consultant Jamie McLeod-Skinner, leaving minimal time to apply regulation.
Specifics of her situation suggest problems would proceed to be complicated, even when she received a slight increase in January 2021 to the secretary of state’s wage of $77,000.
She was not always cash-strapped. Soon after two terms in the Oregon Home, Fagan briefly left politics right after the 2016 short session and saw her income rise. A submitting by her partner in the divorce circumstance claims that Fagan acquired $151,832 in 2016 and $226,367 in 2017.
But she soon returned to politics, toppling incumbent Sen. Rod Monroe (D-Portland) in 2018.
And in March 2020, Fagan described she was carrying credit score card debt of $67,000 student mortgage financial debt of almost $37,000 a private bank loan of $16,000 and, she owed her divorce law firm $4,500. Payments on people financial loans contributed to her monthly bills getting bigger than her earnings.
It is unclear how Fagan’s funds have altered given that, though with her modest salary (only 3 states shell out their secretaries of point out significantly less), it is not likely her scenario has gotten substantially brighter.
Fagan has been unwilling to solution inquiries about the contract with the La Mota affiliate. On the other hand, in an April 28 statement, she defended her final decision to moonlight for La Mota, stating she believes it meets all relevant authorized and ethical specifications.
“I do non-authorized consulting function accumulating info and sources on the hashish sector outside of Oregon,” Fagan claimed. “The organization contracted with me and many others to overview the landscape for growing their functions outdoors of Oregon.”
She also denied that her outdoors perform detracts from her day task: “The time necessary is minimum,” Fagan mentioned. “And I prioritize my community company.”