The National Republican Congressional Committee, the House GOP’s campaign arm, released an ad, first shared with the Daily Caller News Foundation, slamming Democratic Oregon Rep. Val Hoyle for alleged “shady” ties to the marijuana industry.
The freshman congresswoman accepted campaign donations for her 2022 congressional bid from several Oregon cannabis executives, including from the controversial marijuana dispensary La Mota and an affiliated nonprofit, according to Federal Election Commission filings. Following the contributions, Hoyle, then the Commissioner of Labor and Industries, oversaw a $554,990 taxpayer grant to the nonprofit ENDVR, co-founded by the dispensary’s CEO, which the NRCC alleges was part of a “pay-to-play” scheme.
“The cannabis company caught up in controversy. Thousands of dollars to then Labor Commissioner Val Hoyle. Stacks of cash donated to Val Hoyle,” the ad said. “In return, Hoyle gave her donors half a million dollar grant. Donations in, our taxpayer money out — that’s the Val Hoyle corrupt machine.”
The co-founders of La Mota — CEO Rosa Cazares and board of directors chair Aaron Mitchell — donated a combined $5,800 to Hoyle’s congressional campaign in April 2022, and Laura Vega, who co-founded ENDVR with Cazeres, made a $1,000 campaign contribution to Hoyle during the same period, according to the FEC. Mitchell also gave Hoyle $20,000 in 2021 for her state campaign fund, according to the Secretary of State website, which Hoyle reportedly returned once she ran for Congress; there is no record of the congresswoman returning the combined $6,800 from the executives.
“Seeking campaign donations is not a part of the process I like, but when you have working-class people running for office, you can’t just write yourself a check. That means we have to rely on contributions to fund campaigns,” Hoyle previously said of the dispensary’s contributions per KOIN News. “We need a different system, which is one reason I support campaign finance reform. I’ve returned all campaign contributions from La Mota owners and won’t be taking any additional funds from them.”
Christina Stephenson, who took over as Commissioner of Labor and Industries after Hoyle’s departure, canceled the grant to ENDVR in late April following reports of La Mota’s legal troubles and millions in tax liens, according to the Willamette Week. Federal prosecutors and the FBI have since launched investigations into the dispensary after the now-resigned Secretary of State Shemia Fagan did contracted work for La Mota.
“Corrupt politicians like Shemia Fagan and Val Hoyle betrayed Oregonians and violated their trust in service to their La Mota donors,” NRCC spokesperson Ben Peterson told the DCNF in a statement. “This ad buy is just a taste of how voters will come to know Val Hoyle as a key figure in the La Mota scandal and a toxic culture of corruption.”
Hoyle holds one of the Democratic congressional seats the NRCC is hoping to flip in 2024, along with 36 others, according to its website. (RELATED: Republicans Are Coming After These House Dems In 2024)
Hoyle represents Oregon’s Fourth Congressional District, and was first elected to the seat in 2022, beating her Republican opponent Alex Skarlatos by 7.4 points, after serving as Oregon’s Commissioner of Labor and Industries since 2019, according to Ballotpedia. Prior to her role in the executive, Hoyle was the state House Majority Leader until she ran for Secretary of State in 2016 and lost.
Hoyle did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
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