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Saturday, April 21, 2007

A double standard?

We in the media love a local angle to a story, which is one reason there have been so many attempts to tie the recent upheaval in the local U.S. Attorney's Office with the national scandal over the firing of eight U.S. attorneys. It's tough to sit on the sidelines with such a juicy story brewing nationally. So when U.S. Attorney Rachel Paulose's three deputies stepped down earlier this month, it gave the local media a chance to participate in the fun and games if only we could connect those darn dots.

The problem was that it required fitting a square peg into a round hole. As I pointe
d out in my last column "A management primer: Who moved the U.S. attorney's cheese?" the deputy dispute was exactly what it appeared to be, a managerial issue between a young new manager who wanted to change the status quo and strong-willed and experienced deputies with ideas of their own about how the office should be run.

Nonetheless, the attempts continue to tie Paulose's office with the national scandal. The
Star Tribune reports today on a case involving a probe last summer by the Minnesota Attorney General's Office into alleged overbilling by an autism center chaired by Ron Carey, who is now chairman of the state Republican Party. In the middle of running for governor at the time, then-Attorney General Mike Hatch, a DFLer, referred the case to the U.S. Attorney's Office to avoid the appearance that any subsequent prosecution was politically motivated. The case is still pending at the U.S. Attorney's Office. (The Strib story published today is "Politics colored probe of autism center billing.")

So was this the ever elusive "missing link?" If Paulose's office has failed to prosecute a case involving a prominent Republican, doesn't that show she is tied in to the firings scandal and related attempts to politicize the office of U.S. attorney? Errr .... sorry. This one was an air ball. It turns out that Paulose prudently recused herself from the case.

But rather than just giving up he ghost at this point, the story then switches gears and goes after the assistant U.S. attorney who was assigned the case. The article maintains he had a conflict of interest because he applied for a judgeship from (Republican) Gov. Tim Pawlenty while the case was pending. Seems like a stretch to me to find a conflict here -- particularly given that Pawlenty had no idea that the assistant USA was handling the case and in any case wound up awarding the coveted judgeship to someone else -- but I suppose the Strib reporters didn't want to just write off all that time they had spent trying to connect Paulose to the national U.S. attorneys' scandal.

Meanwhile, speaking of the AG's Office, no one seems to have picked up on an ironic little fact reported Minnesota Lawyer's Bar Buzz column recently. Right about the time Paulose's three deputies stepped down, two of newly installed state Attorney General Lori Swanson's deputies departed from her office with nary a peep in the press. (See "Two deputies exit AG’s office," in the April 9 Minnesota Lawyer, password required.)

Swanson, a relatively youthful 40 and the first woman to hold the AG job in the state, is a DFLer. Paulose, a relatively youthful 34 and the first woman to hold the U.S. attorney job in the state, is a Republican. Hmm. We will leave it to you and the political blogs to speculate if there is any significance to the disparate coverage.


Anonymous said...

This is why it is unwise to rely on newspapers for unbiased coverage/reports!

Anonymous said...

Of course, Swanson was elected by the popular vote of the people of Minnesota and has had a long career as a lawyer for the people and state of Minnesota. Paulose was appointed to her position w/out any Congressional oversight (but she does like those Sweet Sixteen inaguration parties). Oh, and Swanson's deputies left for other (higher $$) jobs. Paulose's deputies requested to avoid having to deal with her. Who requests a demotion because their new boss is amazing?

Mark Cohen, editor said...

Interesting. In fairness I would point out that Paulose was confirmed by the U.S. Senate (unanimously), so it's not fair to say she got her position without any congressional oversight.

However, you do raise an very interesting second point. Is that all that is going on in Swanson's Office -- i.e. that everyone there is happy with the new management and the only reason anyone is leaving is for the money. Any AGs or former AGs out there want to weigh in on that issue?

There is no doubt that there were management issues in the transition at the U.S. Attorney's Office (that's what my linked column is about), I am just wondering whether anything similar has occurred in the AG's office given some of the parallels.

As you say, it may just be an odd coincidence that both Swanson's deputies left within a couple of months of the change in regimes. My major point was the departures got little play in the media.

A said...

Thanks for bringing this up. The manner in which the Hatch/Swanson team gutted the AG offices senior level lawyers - many of whom were non-political, and with decades of experience - is one of the great unwritten tragedies in Minnesota gov't over the last ten years. Especially during Hatch's first year, literally dozens of lawyers with specialized experience in niche issues were fired, or hectored into quitting, and the office has never fully recovered, particularly in lower profile divisions.

Meanwhile, the people of Minnesota are being ill-served by the farce of Mike Hatch continuing to work in the office under Lori Swanson. This bully continues to terrorize AG staff, and to do it without accountability of any kind from the current AG. Why the press is focused on Paulose and not this joke of a situation is beyond me.

DA. Blogger said...

Get real, Mr. Cohen. There is a significant differance in the departure of three deputies at the U.S. Attorney's Office and the departure of two Deputy Attorneys General at the Attorney General's Office. In the case of the U.S. Attorneys Office the three who resigned did so to as a public protest concerning various management issues. In the case of the Attorney General's Office, neither deputy has said anything other than positive things about Lori Swanson.

law-gger said...

Another difference between the deputy departures at the U.S. Attorney's Office and the Attorney General's Office is that the two departures in Swanson's Office occurred during the first 100 days of her Administration, which is when a transition is supposed to occur. In contrast, the departures at the U.S. Attorney's Office made with maximum public exposure, were fourteen months after she took office.

richard said...

swanson lost four deputies and several others. may be ch5 'investigator' should find out whether they all actually moved on to 'bigger and better' jobs, and how much more money they are making.

Mark Cohen, editor said...

Hmmm. Not sure what the "get real" comment is all about. But again, I merely posed the question at this point for purposes of debate.

From a managerial perspective, having the prior occupant of the office there would seem to pose some unique challenges, as one of the comments points out. It would be interesting to know if that situation has eased the transition or made it more difficult.

But again, it's not that I have anything bad to say about Ms. Swanson. In fact, I suspect she is a fine lawyer and I like her focus on predatory lending. My question is more about how she is doing running the office. Even the best lawyer might not be the best manager. The deputies leaving was the first thing I heard pertaining to the new regime, which sometimes (though, of course, not always) is a red flag. Public lawyers often have the chance to leave public life for more money, but nonetheless often choose not to. Here are two who nearly simultaneously made that choice. I have no idea at ths point what other attrition there may or may not have been.

Again -- and this is why this is a blog posting and not a story -- I don't think the fact that two deputies (or even more lawyers) leave by itself proves anything. I only asked why I have not heard these questions at least raised. I'd be ecstatic to find out that everyone over at the AG's Office is happy - I think they are good folk and deserve it. The purpose of my post was to emphasize that the media has a responsibility to look into these kinds of things.

Corey Gordon said...

As a former deputy attorney general under Mike Hatch, I will be happy to respond to Mr. Cohen's invitation to comment. Let me start by correcting him on a fundamental factual error: there are not ONLY
two deputies in the attorney general's office--there are several. Thus, to say that "both Swanson's deputies left" creates a completely false impression--and suggests a partisan interest that doesn't become an editor of a supposedly non-partisan publication. When I was in the office I was one of five deputies. Lori Swanson was one of the others, as was Kris Eiden who recently left for strictly personal reasons having nothing to do with Lori--indeed they remain close friends. One of the deputies with whom I served had left, as I did, for private practice. He RETURNED to the office to serve under Lori! Throughout the history of the AG's office deputies have come and gone and have rarely had long tenures. In contrast, the U.S. Attorney's office has many career prosecutors who serve for years. The fact that two of several deputies chose, independently and for unrelated reasons. to leave the AG's office is simply not newsworthy. In contrast, the collective request by three senior career prosecutors to be demoted but remain in the U.S. attorney's office due to dissastisfaction with the current U.S. attorney is, especially in light of issues involving the Justice Department and U.S. Attorneys generally, VERY newsworthy.

Let me also make a couple of other observations. Not suprisingly, Lori Swanson has hit the ground running and, in her brief tenure, has already done outstanding work. She is a mover and a shaker who gets things done, and is perhaps the most hardworking and tireless lawyer I know. In just her first three months, she has garnered national attention for her initiatives against predatory lending and the student loan scandal. She has taken on insurers who churn annuities on the elderly and she shut down trust mills that prey on the elderly. She shut down an international adoption agency that overcharged would-be adoptive parents, drafted a bill to provide a much-needed update to the Serviceman's Relief Act, and has attacked internet bullying. Not bad for someone who also runs one of the state's largest law firms that represents every single agency and department of the state.

And lest I be accused on the same partisanship I see in Mr. Cohen's writings, let me also offer a different perspective on a recent news item involving Ms. Palose. As a deputy A.G., I oversaw the state's small medicaid recovery unit. Becuase medicaid involves both state and federal dollars, the state and the feds have concurrent jurisdiction to pursue fraud cases. It was not uncommon for the state to refer matters to the U.S. attorney's office with its greater resources, and the two offices have worked well together on medicaid fraud cases. Kudos to Mike Hatch for referring out a matter potentially involving Republican Chair Ron Carey. Hatch did the right thing by sending the case to the U.S. Attorney's office during the middle of his campaign for governor, because no matter what his office did he would have been attacked for acting poltically. And Ms. Paulose did the right thing by accepting the case, recusing herself because of her own political ties to the Republicans, and referring the matter to an experienced, veteran assistant. I join Hatch in praising the professionalism of the assistant and am confident that he will discharge his professional duties in a fair and impartial way without political influece. I also think his application for a judgeship is a red herring issue.

I hope this new blog doesn't turn into a new "Minnesota Democrats Exposed" under the guise of objective journalism. There are plenty of legitimate stories out there. The departure of two deputy attorney generals isn't one of them, and neither is the medicaid fraud referral.

Mark Cohen, editor said...

By "both" I meant the two deputies previously referred to. Sorry if there was some confusion on that.

I have no intention of turning this into a political blog. In fact, if you go back over my past columns, I think you'll find them pretty apolitical. And again, I actually think positively of the job Lori Swanson has done as AG so far on an external level. I asked the question (without knowing the answer) whether her transition has been smooth internally. I think that would be interesting article, no matter what the answer. The deputies thing was just a jump off to that.

I would ask folks to keep a respectful tone on our new blog. It is unfortunate that someone used this opportunity to take a pot shot at Mike Hatch, for example.

Anonymous said...

DA. Blogger said...
Get real, Mr. Cohen. There is a significant differance in the departure of three deputies at the U.S. Attorney's Office and the departure of two Deputy Attorneys General at the Attorney General's Office.

I may have misunderstood this controversy. Did the Deputy AUSA's actually depart, or did they merely resign their Deputy positions to become line AUSA's?

Mark Cohen, editor said...

You are correct. The three deputy U.S. attorneys stepped down from their admintrative duties and went back to being line prosecutors. They did not resign from the U.S. Attorney's Office as this previous post implies.

john stanoch said...

As a former Chief Deputy Attorney General who served with then Deputy Attorney General Lori Swanson, I know her to be a dedicated public official who has worked tirelessly to serve justice in our state.

In November, Attorney General Swanson was elected to a four year term by the voters of Minnesota. In January, she took office.

Minnesota Attorneys General, like leaders of other organizations, are entitled to build management teams reflective of their priorities and commitments to the voters of our state.

Transitions are not always easy, but they are necessary and appropriate. Over the years the Office of Attorney General has been served by scores of outstanding Deputy and Assistant Attorneys General, including those who have departed during times of transition. The public continues to be well served by the dedicated public servants who hold those positions today.

We should afford Attorney General Lori Swanson the same respect and deference we have given to each previous occupant of her office.

Mark Cohen, editor said...

Thanks John for an extremely eloquent post. It's a wonderful point to reach in this discussion.

tCA said...

So if Hatch let little old ladies get scammed by crappy annuity companies, didn't stop predatory lending, etc. as Mr. Gordon pointed out, why would Ms. Swanson hire her former boss? After all, these things were happening on a wide scale by the early 2000's and governments at all levels had these things on their radars well before the fall of 2006. Furthermore, what was Ms. Swanson's role in focusing Hatch so narrowly on health insurance companies and ignoring these other major things? I don't know that this issue points to operational management ineptness, but may point to an issues management ineptness.

Additionally, this idea of not turning this conversation into a political one is interesting in light of the fact the two offices are political. It seems to me this game is part of the Chinese water torture routine that is today's politics and, frankly, what turns off the average person from meaningfully participating in the political process...and from getting their news from the MSM.


tCA said...

PS- If it is an issues management problem, for Ms. Paulose, she's just taking orders from the US AG. For Ms. Swanson, it all eminates from her office.

Anonymous said...

Two Deputies and two AAGs? No. Since AG Swanson has taken over there have been upwards of 30 departures (20 Attorneys). Rumor has it that UHG, Ramsey Co, Hennepin Co, HealthPartners and others have been hit by "a Tsunami of resumes" from the AGO.

Anonymous said...

The people who come to work for the Office of the Attorney General do so because they love the work, they love assisting the citizens of this great State and share Lori Swanson's stated goals and mission for providing excellent service to the taxpayers, her state agency clients and the public at large.

Echoing the comment left by "a," who pointed out that the administration first established under Mike Hatch, and now carried on under Lori Swanson, has deprived the citizens of the State of Minnesota of enormous talent by poor personnel management of the human capital under their employ, the tragedy continues because 1) many of the staff continue to look for other employment and 2) the word is out in the legal community and, thus, the Office of the Attorney General is no longer able to attract, much less retain, the bright younger lawyers and non-lawyers it once did. Even the experienced legal secretaries are actively seeking employment elsewhere.

The problems are many, but first and foremost, there is an absence of true respect and trust, and no effort whatsoever to bridge that gap. This culture was created under Mike Hatch and now perpetuated by his continued presence and under this administration.

Lori has indeed continued to pursue worthy cases. It is the manner, however, in which the work is micromanaged that sends staff to the want ads.

Anonymous said...

The reason no current AAGs are coming forward is because they are scared, pure and simple. This administration (which can hardly be characterized as a "new" administration!) uses fear and intimidation to keep its employees in line. To say the attorneys and legal assistants have been beaten down over the past 8 plus years is an understatement.

Anonymous said...

Why are no hard questions being asked of Ms. Swanson? How many attorneys and other staff have left the office since her election? What exactly is Mike Hatch's position? (head of "complex litigation"? come on!) What are his duties? Did they simply switch titles? Rumor has it that Hatch is now a deputy attorney general, and has managers reporting directly to him, and he is in a decision-making position.

Rumor also has it that Kris Eiden did not have a job lined up when she left the office. Has anyone followed up on her new "higher paid" position, or her refusal to comment? She definitely did not report her departure in November. In fact, the administration allowed rumors to fly regarding Ms. Eiden's status, until they were forced to announce her departure in March.

Who is in charge here? Is there a Chief Deputy Attorney General? How many "deputies" are there?

Mark Cohen, editor said...

Interesting. However, newspapers do not trek in unsubstantiated rumors.

If a situation as serious as the one you describe were to actually exist, individuals with firsthand knowledge could always contact the Minnesota Lawyer reporter who has this beat, Dan Heilman -- (612)584-1556, dan.heilman@minnlawyer.com.

As for Kris Eiden, the AG's Office has not said that she left for a higher salary, only that she left for personal reasons. Minnesota Lawyer attempted to contact her when we ran the story on the deputies departing on April 9, but our call was not returned.

Mark Ireland said...

After a clerkship at the Attorney General's office I went to work as an attorney in a private law firm. I then was fortunate enough to rejoin the office as an assistant attorney general. I love it.

I am amused by the angst expressed by anonymous writers, particularly about the lawyers who are joining the staff. Attorneys joining the office include lawyers from Leonard, Street & Dienard, Rider Bennett, Fullbright & Jaworski, federal judicial clerks, and an elected county attorney. They look to me to be energetic, bright and full of public purpose.

I work on multi-state matters, and I know there is no attorney general today who is as active as Lori Swanson. She has her hands on all the cutting edge issues: predatory lending, annuity rip-offs of seniors, living trust mills, the student loan scandal, cell phone regulation, a G.I. Bill for veterans, cyber-bullying, and a lot more to come!

Mark Ireland

Peter Krieser said...

I started work as an Assistant Attorney General in 1999. I have over 30 years of experience as an attorney and was certified as a civil trial lawyer. At the Attorney General's Office I have found my colleagues to be some of the most talented attorneys in the field. I have also found Lori Swanson, to be an extremely pleasant, talented and effective manager.

One anonymous comment said that staff was unhappy. I don't see it.

Peter Krieser
Assistant Attorney General
Minnesota Attorney General's Office

Anonymous said...

Is doing stump-blogging for your boss part of a typical work day, Mark?

Anonymous said...

and Peter?

Bill Klumpp said...

I have been a criminal prosecutor since 1975. I have served as an assistant county attorney and assistant attorney general. As an assistant attorney general I have worked with over 50 elected county attorneys and three attorneys general in the prosecution of dozens of murder cases. The current staff of the attorney general is extremely talented and I enjoy the camaraderie. I can’t think of a better place to work.. By the way, from what I see of Lori Swanson, we have a leader with great energy and enthusiasm. We are lucky to have such talent.

Bill Klumpp

Mark Cohen, editor said...

Let's be respectful of everyone posting here. Thanks for weighing in Peter, Mark and Bill (a former Minnesota Lawyer Attorney of the Year, no less!) I think that input from people inside the office is invaluable in this type of discussion.

Manuel Cervantes said...

Minnesota is fortunate to have Lori Swanson as our Attorney General. When Lori was elected, I was confident that Minnesota would see a continuation of the people’s work that exemplified the previous administration. Lori has already shown that she will fight for the average citizen. In a few short months in office, Lori is charting an ambitious course. Lori has called for legislation against predatory lenders and full disclosure of fees related to cell phone use. As the people’s lawyer, Lori has warned college students about the potential abuse of student loan lenders and has contracted with hospitals across the state to continue Fair Medical Billing which protects the uninsured from aggressive billing practices by health care providers. I became a public attorney to make a difference for the public good. I have been blessed to have served on two Minnesota courts as a city attorney of St. Paul. The public good that Lori will accomplish is vast. I am proud to be a part of that effort.

Manuel Cervantes
Assitant Attorney General

Erik Johnson said...

I am a current AAG and I have not experienced - or heard of - any issues involving Lori Swanson that resemble the sorts of issues that have been reported regarding the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Just the opposite, Attorney General Swanson's years of experience as this state's solicitor general provided her with abundant experience to run this office. And she has already taken a leadership role on matters of public interest, as other commenters have noted in detail.

Despite generalized comments by "anonymous," there is no shortage of bright, talented lawyers (with the possible exception of this commenter, of course) dedicated to the public service work of this office. The attorneys that I work with here have high academic credentials, years of experience in their areas of practice, and standards of excellence comparable to the highest levels of practice I saw during my years in private practice.

Erik Johnson

Sean McCarthy said...

I have been an assistant attorney general for nearly 10 years, and I have been consistently impressed throughout that entire time with the high quality of attorneys, legal assistants, legal secretaries, and other staff at the Minnesota Attorney General's Office. This includes new hires since Attorney General Swanson took office. These observations stand in direct contrast to the prior post stating that "the Office of the Attorney General is no longer able to attract, much less retain, the bright younger lawyers and non-lawyers it once did." To the contrary, I have had the pleasure of working with a number of high quality attorneys and other staff, and take issue with the suggestion that those currently working for the AG's Office are somehow not as bright or talented as those working elsewhere. Moreover, in the dealings I have had with Attorney General Swanson, I have observed her to be both capable and committed to doing the right thing for the public good.

Chuck Roehrdanz said...

I joined the Attorney General's office five weeks ago. I was a JAG officer in the U.S. Air Force for four years. I can tell you that the A.G. Office is a breath of fresh air. It is a positive and exciting experience to represent people who otherwise don't have anyone in their corner when they are victimized by financial hucksters.

I find the attorneys and legal staff to be enthusiastic, professional, and passionate about what they do.

By the way, Mike Hatch works about fifty feet from my office. It looks to me like he is damn busy working on cases.

The A.G. work experience is such that I look forward each morning to coming in the office and working on my cases.

The Office is well run and serving the taxpayer's well.

Chuck Roehrdanz
Assistant Attorney General

Greg Schaefer said...

For the past eight years, I have been an Assistant Attorney General. Over the years, I have had the honor and privilege to work alongside Attorney General Lori Swanson. On numerous occasions, this Attorney General has proven that she has the ability to be the watchdog for Minnesota. She possesses great passion for the people she serves and has illustrated this commitment by fighting for the benefit of consumers, veterans, and the protection of the elderly.

There is no shortage of knowledgeable staff attorneys, experienced in particular areas of the law, who are willing to share their expertise with young, talented attorneys. The implication that experienced attorneys are unhappy and seeking employment outside this Office is unfounded.

-Greg Schaefer

Anonymous said...

Don't all these impassioned defenses of the AG seem a bit...orchestrated? And...similar? I've seen hacked-out campaign literature that has more substance than this fluff. Cripes, these things just reek of boilerplate -- same style, syntax, tone. They were obviously written by the same person, and i don't think it takes too much imagination to figure out who that is. This is textbook Disinformation 101 stuff.

If anyone believes these were all written by the people who signed them, well, there's some swamp land in Aitkin County i can direct you to. It's a safe bet that some of the purported "defenders" who posted here wouldn't know a blog if it hit them in the face. Besides, isn't the access to the blogosphere severely limited on most state computers? Are we to believe that the spirit so moved these dedicated employees that they ran over to the nearest Starbucks to post their ringing praises? Puh-leeze.

The irony, of course, is that many of the anonymous posters here likely *are* real AG employees. Anybody who isn't sure as to why they must remain anonymous hasn't been paying attention for the last several years.

I challenge the esteemed Mr. Cohen or any other dedicated journalist to get to the bottom of this scandal. There are any number of stories that need to be written about the myriad dysfunctions in the AG's office. Add this one to the list.

Oliver Wendell Holmes said...

Since this is a new blog, I have two suggestions. First, have a moderated comment section. This will avoid the comments devolving into the type of he said/she said bathroom wall stuff that is all too common on the web.

Second, have some type of verification for who is posting. Obviously Oliver Wendell Holmes is dead (1894 to be exact), but here he is writing a comment on this blog. No offense, but I question whether a senior executive at Qwest and former judge has time to post on blogs. Maybe he does, but it's weird.

Anonymous said...

AG'ers and Ex-AG'ers, your true colors are showing.

Ex's: Mike isn't going to be governor; his "Republican whores" comment ensured that. You can stop being afraid of him. Can you truly say that your departure from the office had nothing to do with the way Hatch treats his employees? Can you truly say you don't know any good, experienced people he fired for reasons having nothing to do with performance?

Current: Can you truly say you weren't solicited by the administration to write your comments? Can you truly say you don't know any good, experienced people Hatch and Swanson have fired for reasons having nothing to do with performance? Can you truly say the office has as many experienced attorneys as it once did?

Why not post an anonymous comment telling us the truth?

Anonymous said...

The vast majority of attorneys from the AGO who allegedly signed their names to "their" posts on this blog wouldn't know a blog if it bit them on their collective asses. Undoubtedly, Hatch directed them to post comments on this blog. Pathetic -- and a sad commentary on how low the office of the MN AGO has sunk.

tCA said...

I'm still wondering about those issues Ms. Swanson is working on and why they weren't investigated more closely while Hatch was the A.G. What part did Ms. Swanson play in the bulldog's narrow focus of health insurers? If the answer is "none", then she's not terribly bright for hiring him. If the answer is "a lot", then she has a lot to answer to during the next campaign cycle. In other words, what did Ms. Swanson know and when did she know it? Does that sound familiar to anyone???


Anonymous said...

I know that AAG's such as Manuel Cervantes, Greg Shaefer, Bill Klumpp and Mark Ireland are exemplary attorneys and fine individuals who are truly dedicated to serving the public. That is without question.

It seems to me that any prudent manager of an office of such importance and prominence as the Attorney General's office, would and should endeavor to conduct candid and thorough exit interviews with employees who are leaving to determine what might be done to stem the flow of such talent, dedication and experience as it is right now. Because the taxpayers are footing the bill and deserve modern, enlightened management of precious state resources.

Every time an experienced staff member leaves, it costs the state of Minnesota a bundle to say goodbye to them and certainly to replace them.

Oliver Wendell Holmes said...

A way to clear up this verification/identity thing would be for the moderator to look at the ISP addresses or electronic footprint of the people who have posted on this site. It would be interesting to know if all the posts were coming from the same computer.

al zdrazil said...

Okay, I work at the AG's office and I have nothing but good things to say about Ms. Swanson's leadership since her election. It is a big office and I did not know her before that. I have looked at the comments of my fellow employees and I can simple say that I agree with all of them.

Of course, some people will say that means we all had them written for us. That insults us and Ms. Swanson. Do people really believe that there would be a blog like this going on and employees of the office wouldn't talk to each other or tell each other about it? Of course, we are going to know that this is going on.

Making an unsupported attack disguised as a question does not make it any more legitimate. If participants have facts, let’s hear them. Let us not credit political attack as legitimate inquiry.

Mark Cohen, editor said...

I would second the thoughts of this poster that the speculation withut any facts grows tiresome. I was hoping for more constructive input. I would add that while there may have been some orchestration, I suspect all of the posts in favor of Ms Swanson are sincere.

Unless someone really has something new to add, I am going to close off this thread. I agree with this post that facts are one thing, political attacks are another. We are short on the first here and knee deep in the second.

Mark Cohen, editor said...

I am hereby concluding this thread. Thanks to all who took the time to participate. This was certainly a subject that invoked a lot of passion -- although in the end it generated more heat than light.

Mark Cohen, editor said...

I have reactivated this thread in case there is anything left anyone wants to say in light of the revelations yesterday about the departures from the AG's Office and unionization efforts.

To those who in good faith posted here, your participation helped bring these issues to light so that they can be constructively addressed. Thank you.

The Pioneer Press reports some of the positive comments about the AG's Office may have been the result of pressuring from Mike Hatch. If that is the case, my condolences to anyone who was abused in this fashion. I realized that there was likely some orchestration going on with the positive posts, but I did not believe Hatch or anyone else in that office would go to the lengths of forcing people who did not want to to post. Apparently I may have been naive in that respect. I have pledged to cooperate if there is any investigation to get to the bottom of that.

Thanks again to all. I have added a post to the blog ("The story behind the Swanson post") describing what we set out to achieve here and how you helped. Blog on and come visit us again!

Peter Krieser said...

I wish to assure the readers of this Blog that my submission to the thread at 11:21 a.m. Wednesday April 25, 2007 was truthful, and was not the result of pressure or coercion from Attorney General Swanson, Mike Hatch, or any other person in the Attorney General's Office (AGO.).

The integrity and quality of the lawyers in the AGO has been impugned by various anonymous writers. I believe the background and experience, noted below, has provided me with the ability to recognize lawyers, who are talented, dedicated, and excel in the profession. Before joining the AGO I spent 26 years in private practice in both medium and small firms. During that time, I served on the Supreme Court Board of Legal Certification, the Board of Governors of the MSBA, HCBA, and MTLA (Minnesota Trial Lawyers Association.) I was named lawyer of the year by the MTLA, and was chair of the MSBA's Trial Lawyer Certification Council.

During the past eight years, while working at the AGO, I have had the opportunity to observe Lori Swanson as a Deputy Attorney General, Solicitor General, and Attorney General. Based on my experience and observation, Attorney General Swanson, continually, impresses me with her knowledge, grasp of issues and genuine concern for people. She is friendly, open, and personable with the entire staff.

Regarding other lawyers in the AGO. I would gladly have, as a partner in private practice, any of the lawyers in the AGO division in which I work. They are excellent attorneys. Further, it has been my observation that the other lawyers and staff members in this office have been and continue to be highly competent, dedicated, helpful, and skilled attorneys. It has been my observation that almost all of those who leave the AGO, retire or leave for higher paying jobs in the private sector, not due to low morale issues.

Finally, it is disheartening and disturbing to know there are persons who would anonymously represent to your readers, that the other AGO attorneys, who have written in support of Attorney General Swanson's administration, and I, have forwarded anything but voluntary and truthful submissions to your blog. I hope this information will assist in removing that misconception.

Peter J. Krieser.
Assistant Attorney General

bobby_b said...

I simply want to add that I know or have known more than a few of the named commenting AAG's here.

They are all strong, intelligent people, and, as a first point, the idea that anyone could get them to post something here they didn't believe is laughable, and, as a second point, anyone making a fraudulent post here in their names would have triggered an instant public reaction from any of them.

I would stop doubting the commenters' identities and motivations, and maybe look more towards who might be in the various ideological camps in that office, and from which camps the departures have occurred.

Mark Cohen, editor said...

The topic I was hoping someone would discuss is what Hatch actually does in the office. Swanson has gotten a lot of support -- and I think that you are right to say that most of the people who here claim to support her actually do. But little support has been expressed for Mike Hatch.

The Pioneer Press did a piece today where a number of inside sources said his removal would be the best answer to resolve the current turmoil. Is there anyone at all out there who will stand up for Mike Hatch remaining in the office and offer some reasns why his continued presence as director of complex litigation is more of a benefit than a liability to Swanson?

Georg said...

For those of you commenting on the similarities in the posts defending the AG, please remember those posts were written by Lawyers who are used to writing in Legalese, therefore they are going to look a lot alike. No great conspiracy.