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Cannabis Control Commission chair Shannon O'Brien accused of racist remarks

Report details why Shannon O'Brien was suspended from Cannabis Control Commission
Report details why Shannon O'Brien was suspended from Cannabis Control Commission 02:22

BOSTON - It has been a monthslong political saga with few details emerging about Shannon O'Brien's ouster as the head of the state's Cannabis Control Commission until now. Court filings reveal an October letter from Treasurer Deborah Goldberg to O'Brien in which she accuses her of having made "racially, ethnically and culturally insensitive statements."

During one commission meeting she claims O'Brien made an insensitive reference to a person of Asian heritage. Back in September O'Brien, a former treasurer herself and one-time Democratic nominee for governor, sued Goldberg over her suspension saying it was without merit.

Shannon O'Brien
Suspended Cannabis Control Commission chair Shannon O'Brien Cannabis Control Commission

Outside investigators were called in when Goldberg claims other staffers made serious allegations against O'Brien about her behavior and a hostile work environment. O'Brien allegedly told them, "I should have cleaned it up. It's difficult sometimes to know how to say the right thing."

O'Brien, appointed to a five-year term in 2022, says her career and reputation are now at stake and is seeking an injunction to stop a private meeting next Tuesday to challenge her suspension saying it's not a fair procedure and that the state treasurer should not be the judge and jury.

Her attorney Max Stern wrote in court filings, "under the circumstances the only likely outcome, unless relief is granted by this court, is that she will not only lose her job, but will go down in history as the former treasurer and commissioner who was fired for making racist statements and she will probably never work again."

The hearing on the injunction is expected Monday at Suffolk Superior Court.   

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