Republican Leader Demands La Mota Refunds Oregon Contributions
In response to a W.W. report, the leading Republican in Oregon’s legislature has demanded that Governor Tina Kotek and other state officials repay campaign funds made by the proprietors of the troubled cannabis business La Mota.
WHO released the findings of a months-long investigation into La Mota, the state’s second-largest marijuana business, earlier last week.
Around $1.6 million in tax liens have been issued by the Oregon Department of Revenue to the company’s two founders and several LLCs they control since 2018. In 2022, Aaron Mitchell and Rosa Cazares, the company’s founders, were hit with $1.4 million in tax liens by the U.S. Revenue Agency.
Since 2017, thirty lawsuits have been filed against the two founders and the several LLCs they control in Oregon circuit courts, with the majority of the cases citing nonpayment of invoices.
At the beginning of 2019, the couple and La Mota gave more than $200,000 to prominent Oregon Democrats such as Governor Tina Kotek, Secretary of State Shemia Fagan, Senate Majority Leader Rob Wagner (D-Lake Oswego), and State Labor Commissioner Christina Stephenson.
Earlier this year, Cazares and Mitchell were evicted from a mansion in the Northwest highlands after hosting fundraisers for Kotek and Fagan there, but the owners claimed they owed rent for months.
Neither Kotek nor Fagan has said that they will no longer take campaign donations from the couple or the corporation, nor have they stated that they would refund any such payments. (Like former labor commissioner and current U.S. Rep. Val Hoyle, Stephenson promised not to accept any further donations from La Mota enterprises or their founders.)
Bend Republican and Senate minority leader Tim Knopp demands that senior Democrats refund money donated by La Mota’s owners and the corporation.
“If you’re an elected official, I think you have an ethical and moral obligation only to take contributions from people that aren’t involved in wrongdoing, and in this case, it’s not paying your taxes,” Knopp says. “I think that anyone who took contributions from La Mota should return those contributions, because they owe money to the state of Oregon in taxes.”
(It is unclear how much of the outstanding taxes the couple has subsequently paid to the state, although records indicate at least $137,000 of the tax obligation has been paid.) The tax liens issued include $592,000 in marijuana sales taxes from 2016.
The La Mota franchise receives new licenses from the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission each year. According to Knopp, that needs to alter. Unless “everything is straightened out,” he believes, “including all past taxes paid,” the government should not issue La Mota any new permits.
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Vikki Breese-Iverson (“-Prineville), the minority leader in the Oregon House, issued a statement saying that the allegations against the couple are “undoubtedly concerning, and Oregonians should be aware.” Still, she did not go as far as Knopp did in demanding that the Democrats return contributions from La Mota and its founders.
She also reiterated the Republican request for an outside comp”ny to audit the OLCC after an internal inquiry revealed that high-ranking officials had hoarded r”re, costly bourbon for themselv”s and their friends, as reported by The Oregonian.
“We are looking at a second allegation revealing either corruption or further agency incompetence,” she told W.W.” ” statement. “It remains critically important there be an investigation of OLCC done by a nonpartisan, third-party investigator. Oregonians deserve good and transparent government.”
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