Battle of the corruptions

Salem, Oregon is the comedy capital of the world, if you follow the news. Now Steve Marks, the former chief executive of the state's crooked liquor racket, wants damages because he says that when he was fired earlier this year, it was wrongful. 

In Marks’ Friday tort claim notice filed with the state—a precursor to litigation—he makes a bombshell accusation: that Kotek fired him because [Rosa] Cazares, the 35-year-old CEO of the embattled La Mota dispensary chain, pushed her to do so.

“Marks was summarily forced out of office by Gov. Tina Kotek in early 2023 because Rosa Cazares, prominent owner of one of Oregon’s largest dispensary chains and an opponent of cannabis regulations, wanted him gone,” alleges the claim, submitted by Marks’ attorney, Bill Gary of the Harrang Long firm. “Cazares placed herself in close orbit to the governor and to then-Secretary of State Shemia Fagan.”

You may recall that Marks got his walking papers shortly after the Bourbongate scandal broke. The graft exposed by that incident is supposedly still being "investigated" (sure it is). But according to Marks, that corruption was superseded by the other blatant corruption involving the former secretary of state, Shemia Fagan (this is where you're supposed to boo). The obvious threat is that Governor Kohoutek is going to get roped further into the Fagan morass unless Marks gets paid. 

Does his accusation have a kernel of truth in it? Oh, I don't know, I keep thinking about this photo in the Weed of Kotek playing doubles pickleball with Cazares and her boyfriend less than a year ago. Pretty cozy. 

And so, friends, it's a classic Oregon dilemma: Which corruption got Marks fired – Bourbongate or Shemiagate? As Mrs. Robinson knew, every way you look at this, you lose.

UPDATE, later that afternoon: As this OPB story describes it, although Marks didn't actually leave until after Bourbongate broke, Kohoutek has said she decided to fire him before she knew about that scandal. More fuel for Marks's lawyers' gyrations, I would think.


  1. It has all the truthy qualities needed for a settlement to avoid trial.

    1. Unless the state retains Miller Nash as outside counsel to defend the litigation. In that case, Miller Nash will run with the ball, regardless of any and all damning evidence against its client, up to about one week before the trial date. At that point, after billing the state several hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees, they will recommend settlement. Of course, at this point, the plaintiff’s settlement demand will be much higher than it was in the beginning. This should take approximately two years, and quite possibly more.

  2. Wonder what Griffin-Valade is thinking as she enters her second full month as our Secretary of State.

  3. Some enterprising investigator is going to follow the smell of the dirty money.

    Might take a while.

  4. Will he win? Who knows, but the discovery should be fascinating!

  5. Using OPB as a legitimate source?


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