Sen. Brian Boquist, I-Dallas, (seen here) and Sen. Art Robinson, R-Cave Junction, want the U.S. Attorney's office to investigate cash campaign contributions to Oregon politicians. (Photo by Robert Aughenbaugh/Oregon Capital Chronicle)

Two state senators want Oregon U.S. Attorney Natalie Wight’s office to investigate cash donations from cannabis company owners to state politicians.

Sens. Brian Boquist, I-Dallas, and Art Robinson, R-Cave Junction, sent the letter to the U.S. Attorney’s office on Friday. They made the request after reading a Willamette Week article about operators of the La Mota cannabis company giving thousands in cash campaign donations to prominent politicians, including Gov. Tina Kotek and Senate President Rob Wagner, and former Secretary of State Shemia Fagan, all Democrats.

Fagan resigned from office after she admitted inking a $10,000-a-month consulting agreement with the cannabis company and sought their input on a state audit.

“Many of these cash campaign or other donations exceeded $10,000 from federally illegal drug operations,” the senators said in the letter, referencing marijauna’s status as a federal controlled substance. 

Spokespeople for Kotek and Wagner didn’t have any immediate comment.

Cash contributions are not illegal under Oregon’s campaign laws but can be ripe for abuse, the article noted. 

The senators suggested federal investigators cast a wide net and include financial institutions, which are required to report deposits of more than $10,000.

“While politicians may claim they qualify as exempt charitable organizations, the financial institutions issuing or receiving over $10,000 (are) required to report,” the letter said. “Most do not.”

The senators told the federal prosecutor they are concerned about other ongoing issues in Oregon state government, including the scandal at the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission. In that case, state officials routed rare bourbon to designated liquor stores for their personal use.

“This cash scandal is simply the tip of the iceberg in the Legislative Assembly and Oregon State Capitol,” they wrote.

The senators asked the prosecutor to follow the facts wherever they lead.

“Regardless of the situation, the citizens of Oregon deserve your attention to determine the facts whether illegal or legal, as any reasonable person simply sees political corruption,” they said.

A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office confirmed the agency received the letter and declined further comment.

Oregon Capital Chronicle

Oregon Capital Chronicle is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Oregon Capital Chronicle maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Lynne Terry for questions: Follow Oregon Capital Chronicle on Facebook and Twitter.

Ben Botkin, Oregon Capital Chronicle

Ben Botkin covers justice, health and social services issues for the Oregon Capital Chronicle. He 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.

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