Los Angeles Magazine (LA Mag) has issued a retraction of its previous article alleging corruption of a Santa Barbara public official while issuing cannabis permits.
Last March the Santa Barbara community was abuzz after LA Mag published an article titled “In Sleepy Santa Barbara, a City Hall Insider Raises Eyebrows” written by Mitchell Kriegman, targeting Public Information Officer (PIO) Anthony Wagner’s alleged shady dealings.
Kriegman stated that Wagner has been accused of flashing a badge and pretending to be a sworn officer while bullying an Eastside business owner and received complaints to the City. Despite these, he obtained high-ranking positions such as PIO to then-Mayor Cathy Murrillo and the point person who awarded cannabis dispensary licenses for the city.
The article further suggested that friends or acquaintances of Wagner had received highly coveted cannabis dispensary licenses within the City of Santa Barbara before promptly flipping the license and selling it for a profit to a Florida-based company.
Local journalists raised their eyebrows indeed, but not because of the article’s claims. Instead, there were concerns about the quality of reporting and sources. Jerry Roberts of Newsmakers reported the Montecito Journal was in talks to first publish the story but backed out over some concerns. Nick Welsh of The Independent stated it was all bark and no bite with lots of innuendoes and little substance.
Jerry Roberts went on to interview Kriegman about his article and Kriegman himself wrote an Op-Ed for edhat defending his piece and clarifying that he withdrew the exposé from the Montecito Journalit was not rejected.
Ultimately, the Santa Barbara Police Department hired a third-party investigator to review the claims made in the LA Mag piece while Wagner was placed on administrative leave. Two months later the Police Department released the results of the investigation and stated Wagner did not have a conflict of interest with awarding a license to a specific cannabis company.
To Read The Rest Of This Article By Lauren Bray on Edhat Santa Barbara
Published: February 28, 2022
Founder & Interim Editor of L.A. Cannabis News