A Chicago Tribune story published Tuesday says federal investigators are “scrutinizing” Green Thumb Industries’ (GTI) activities in Illinois and other states for evidence of a “pay-to-play” scheme to obtain state licenses to operate. On Wednesday, CEO Ben Kovler demanded a retraction.
“The Chicago Tribune has published unfounded allegations that completely contradict our corporate values,” he said in a press release.
Thin on the details
Citing three unnamed sources and acknowledging that no charges have been filed at this time, the report says investigators are examining campaign donations, and notes GTI reps and friends have also donated to legalization efforts and hired lobbyists and consultants tied to then-House Speaker Michael Madigan.
Is there an investigation?
On Twitter, Kovler called it fake news and questioned whether the investigation even exists. “GTI has not found any evidence of a federal investigation,” he wrote. “This kind of journalism is a direct attack on our team’s accomplishments over the past seven years.”
Time will tell
Since federal investigators are staying mum, it’s too early to jump to conclusions, Brad Spirrison, co-founder and CEO of Chicago-based cannabis trade publication Grown In, told Business of Cannabis.
“GTI has been responding pretty definitively that the Tribune article is unfounded,” he said in an email. “However the FBI has been conducting an active investigation into Illinois Lobbying that last year brought down the CEO of Illinois’s largest utility company. Since the feds don’t talk much, only time will tell.”