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Monday, June 2, 2008

Auditor set to release report on AG Lori Swanson's office tomorrow

Tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. Legislative Auditor James Nobles will release the results of his preliminary assessment of the allegations concerning the Minnesota Attorney General´s Office.

The results will be presented in a letter to members of the Legislative Audit Commission. The letter will be posted on the Office of the Legislative Auditor's website, http://www.auditor.leg.state.mn.us/.


Anonymous said...

So it sounds like there was "inappropriate" conduct in the AGO but there will be no further investigation by the Legislative Auditor because the conduct did not fall under its statutory authority?

Anonymous said...

From an early AP account of the report: "Swanson said the auditor's review came out 'as I expected.'"

So she expected current and former employees to testify under oath that they felt pressure to act inappropriately (whether or not that rose to the level of unethical or illegal conduct), and that they would testify about " an office environment that focused on obtaining favorable media attention rather than the methodical legal work required to successfully litigate cases."

Look, the Legislative Auditor declined to move forward because " the allegations presented by Representative Simon are not the kinds of issues the Legislative Auditor addresses through an investigation. " If the AG takes this letter as a clean bill of health -- which appears to be the approach she's taking -- that's really disturbing and suggests that nothing will change at the AGO until the legislature changes the law to provide civil service protection to AAGs.

Anonymous said...

I agree - I can't quite figure out what that report actually says. It sounds like the complaints raised to Representative Simon were confirmed for the most part, but the auditor either can't do anything about it and/or the complaints don't rise to the level of being per se illegal. Even if not technically illegal, I don't think the Attorney General's conduct, which everyone seems to confirm, is remotely acceptable for our legal profession. It's no wonder attorneys have left there in droves. (And I guess my firm will continue to receive the avalanche of resumes from current attorneys.)

Anonymous said...

All of Steven Simon's allegations - which include Amy Lawler's allegations - were verified during this investigation. (Perhaps this should result in a thorough review at Swanson's, I mean, Mengler's report and the subsequent firing of Ms. Lawler).
"The individuals we interviewed under oath testified that the events involved in the allegations did occur. The individuals said—as Representative Simon relayed to the commission—that they felt pressured to act inappropriately, and they gave detailed accounts of specific events. However, they also stated that no inappropriate, unethical, or illegal actions resulted from the pressure." The Legislative Auditor found that the attorneys were pressured to act inappropriately but refused to do so. Those interviewed also testified that they believed their demotion or reassignment was retaliation for having not followed a directive from either former-Attorney General Hatch or Attorney General Swanson." Hatch and Swanson may emphasize the point that these attorneys could not prove the connection, but, let's remember no one in Swanson's administration is going to admit that an attorney was demoted or reassigned for retaliation. Even though these attorney's knew what consequences they faced, I'm not surprised that they - who "serve at the pleasure" of the Attorney General - take their ethical requirements to heart and spoke up and disagreed with a supervisor.
I hope the Legislature puts the Legislative Auditor's suggestion on its next agenda - that the current status of attorneys in the Attorney General’s Office needs to be reviewed. These hard-working and ethical people need protection from demotion, retaliation and firing when they disagree with a supervisor. They should also not have to leave their job in order to abide by their ethical obligations.