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Tuesday, April 8, 2008

AGO to get dueling reviews

Even with the preliminary legislative audit being performed at the state Attorney General's office, the AGO is going ahead with an independent review under the auspices of University of St. Thomas Law School dean Thomas Mengler (on right).

AGO spokesman Benjamin Watson said Mengler's investigation is going on in tandem with that of Legislative Auditor James Nobles, but declined to say how long it would take or what Mengler would be trying to determine.

Nobles decided late last month to begin what he called a preliminary investigation of "any sort of inappropriate, unethical, illegal activity" in the AG's office, also reserving the right to launch a more elaborate probe at a later date.

Is the AGO bringing in Mengler in the hopes that he'll paint a sunnier picture than Nobles? It would be interesting to compare the two reviews once they're completed.


Mark Cohen, editor said...

I actually think it is a good idea for the AG to go ahead with having Dean Mengler conduct a review -- not to see if he finds a "sunnier picture" -- but to look at process improvements that may allay some of the office management-related issues that have been raised. I look at what is happening in the AG's Office primarily as a management situation. If this is the use to which Dean Mengler is being put, I think it is a good one, particularly given that the auditor is only looking for legal and ethical violations.

Anonymous said...

Once again, Mr. Cohen, you assume that the AG is a decent person with pure motives. That is a mistake.

Mark Cohen, editor said...

Politicians rarely act with what I would call "pure" motives. (Possible exception: Jimmy Carter during his ill-fated presidency.) I assume they will act in a manner consistent with their own self interests and their future political aspirations.(Not to say they might not find the time to do some public good as well.) A state AG can be generally defined as a frustrated would-be governor. A tumultuous tenure as AG does not make for an easy gubernatorial campaign. Ergo, if there is anything Dean Mengler or anyone else can recommend to help settle things down and increase satisfaction in the office, it would behoove the AG to listen.

I think the reason the usual equation has not been working so far is that she is following the management play book of Mike Hatch, who was a bad manager. Not to say Hatch does not have other skills he excels at -- such as taking out actual or perceived political enemies. I think he could write a pretty authoritative book on the latter subject. Karl Rove is about the only person I can think of who could write a better one.

Anonymous said...

What a joke. Given that, unlike the legislative auditor, Dean Mengler has no subpoena power or, as far as anyone knows, any particular directive for this "investigation," what exactly is he going to do and who is he going to talk to? Only current employees who obviously fear retribution from the management if they speak out like Amy Lawler? No one should characterize the legislative auditor's investigation and whatever Dean Mengler is supposed to be doing as being remotely comparable. It would be interesting to hear from any current AGO employees what's going on.

Anonymous said...

The average line attorney (me, for example) has no idea what's going on with either of these investigations. We haven't been told a thing.

Mark Cohen, editor said...

Well, that's not good.

My understanding is that the Auditor Nobles is only talking to a very limited number of folks during his preliminary investigation. (Obviously this would include Lori Swanson and Amy Lawler.) If, on the basis of this inquiry, he determines to go further, more folks in the office will be involved.

As for Dean Mengler, nothing to our knowledge has happened yet. I would imagine nothing will happen with that until after the conclusion of the auditor's preliminary inquiry, which is not expected to take long.