Oregon Secretary of State Shemia Fagan will resign next week and officially step down on May 8, the secretary announced on Tuesday.
The resignation comes after it was revealed that Fagan had accepted a lucrative side job as a consultant to a cannabis company.
Her deputy, Cheryl Myers, will step into the position until Gov. Tina Kotek appoints a successor.
“While I am confident that the ethics investigation will show that I followed the state’s legal and ethical guidelines in trying to make ends meet for my family, 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 in a statement on Tuesday. “Protecting our state’s democracy and ensuring faith in our elected leaders—these are the reasons I ran for this office. They are also the reasons I will be submitting my resignation today. I want to thank the incredible staff in the Secretary of State’s Office for their hard work and Oregonians for the opportunity to serve them. It has been a true honor to serve the people of Oregon."
Kotek supports Fagan’s decision to resign.“I support this decision,” Kotek said in a statement. “It is essential that Oregonians have trust in their government. I believe this is a first step in restoring that trust. During the upcoming appointment process, my office will do everything possible to support the hard-working staff in the Secretary of State’s Office and ensure this will not disrupt the May 16 election.”
Fagan, a Democrat, apologized on Monday for working for the marijuana company but indicated that she intended to serve out the remaining 20 months of her term. Making matters worse, Fagan worked for two months as a paid consultant for a marijuana business, which has a sketchy financial record, while her office was wrapping up an audit of the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission.
Oregon ethics laws allow public officials to have private jobs and many lawmakers, who are part-time paid government employees, do so in order to make ends meet.
Senate Republican Leader Tim Knopp (R-Bend) praised the news outlet for exposing Fagan's side job indiscretions.
The audit, released Friday, called for Oregon’s marijuana regulatory agency to “reform” some rules for marijuana businesses, saying they’re “burdens,” combined with federal restrictions.
Fagan apologized for taking the outside job, attributing it to “poor judgment” and quit the moonlighting job.
"I owe the people of Oregon an apology,” Fagan added. “I exercised poor judgment by contracting with a company that is owned by my significant political donors and is regulated by an agency that was under audit by my audits division.”
House Republican Leader Vikki Breese-Iverson (R-Prineville) called on the governor to "exercise due diligence and thorough vetting" as she appoints a new secretary of state.
Oregon doesn't have a lieutenant governor so the secretary of state is next in line if the governor’s office becomes vacant.
Deputy Secretary of State Cheryl Myers said she is ready to take over in Fagan's place and will continue to lead while overcoming what she called an "unfortunate situation."