Scandal-marred Oregon Secretary of State audit will remain online 

A memo about former Secretary of State Shemia Fagan’s consulting work with La Mota will accompany the audit 

By: - November 20, 2023 5:21 pm

Secretary of State LaVonne Griffin-Valade signs her oath of office on June 30, 2023. (Julia Shumway/Oregon Capital Chronicle)

Oregonians still can access the audit of the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission after former Secretary of State Shemia Fagan’s moonlighting scandal with cannabis company La Mota put the audit under intense scrutiny. 

Oregon Secretary of State LaVonne Griffin-Valade, who released her review of the audit on Monday, said in a release that it is of the same quality as others by the agency and should be treated the same way and remain posted online. 

“The public interest in this case is best served by independent auditors providing evidence-supported recommendations to state government,” she said. “Neither my review nor any other has uncovered a reason to think this report is anything short of that standard.”

Last month an independent review called on the Secretary of State’s Office to take the audit down while the agency reviewed the audit, which was linked to the rapid downfall of Griffin-Valade’s predecessor, Shemia Fagan. Fagan resigned in May over her $10,000-per-month consulting contract. 

Griffin-Valade’s memo outlines the findings of a month-long review and seeks to demonstrate that Fagan’s actions didn’t affect the contents of the audit report. In October, an independent review of the audit concluded that auditors could have done more to address the public perception of the audit and its conflicts of interest with Fagan’s consulting work. Griffin-Valade said she agreed with that assessment, which California-based Sjoberg Evashenk Consulting completed for the Oregon Department of Justice. 

Griffin-Valade directed state auditors to change audit processes, including limiting the secretary’s role in the scope of planning audits and documenting conflicts of interest throughout the audit. The office also plans to overhaul its process that determines how audit subjects are picked during planning and will contract with a third-party independent consultant to make more improvements to audit planning.

The Oregon Government Ethics Commission has two pending cases on Fagan: one on her consulting contract and another on her travel and whether she improperly brought family members on trips or double-dipped into her campaign fund and the state.


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Ben Botkin
Ben Botkin

Ben Botkin covers justice, health and social services issues for the Oregon Capital Chronicle. Ben Botkin has been a reporter since 2003, when he drove from his Midwest locale to Idaho for his first journalism job. He has written extensively about politics and state agencies in Idaho, Nevada and Oregon. Most recently, he covered health care and the Oregon Legislature for The Lund Report. Botkin has won multiple journalism awards for his investigative and enterprise reporting, including on education, state budgets and criminal justice.