Lori Swanson

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Lori Swanson
29th Attorney General of Minnesota
Assumed office
January 2, 2007
Governor Tim Pawlenty
Mark Dayton
Preceded by Mike Hatch
Personal details
Born (1966-12-16) December 16, 1966 (age 51)
Political party Democratic
Education University of Wisconsin,
William Mitchell College of Law

Lori Swanson (born December 16, 1966) is the Attorney General of Minnesota. She is the first female Attorney General elected in Minnesota.[1] In 2018, she unsuccessfully[2] ran for Governor of Minnesota with running mate U.S. Representative Rick Nolan.[3]

Early life and education

Swanson was born on December 16, 1966. She earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and her J.D. magna cum laude from William Mitchell College of Law in Saint Paul.[1][4]

Early career

Swanson served as Deputy Attorney General during Mike Hatch's first term, and as Solicitor General during his second term. She also served as chair of the Consumer Advisory Council to the Federal Reserve Board of Governors in Washington D.C. in 2006.[1][4]

Attorney General of Minnesota

She was elected Minnesota Attorney General on November 7, 2006 and took office on January 2, 2007, becoming the first woman to serve as Minnesota's Attorney General.[1] She also became the first William Mitchell College of Law grad to serve as the Minnesota Attorney General.

In 2007, a group of attorneys working for Swanson attempted to form a union with the help of AFSCME council 5 to improve their working conditions and provide some protection from being asked to violate the Minnesota Rules of Professional Conduct by bringing baseless lawsuits against individuals and organizations to suit Swanson's political aspirations.[5] As of April 2017, three months into Swanson's tenure, at least 30 members of Swanson's staff had left the office.[6] On March 7th, 2008, MinnPost reported on the internal fight for unionization that was still ongoing, including reports that attorneys who did not support Swanson politically were given punishment assignments or were removed from cases.[7] Later on that spring, in May 2008, an attorney who publicly advocated for the formation of a union, Amy Lawler, was fired by Swanson without explanation.[8]

In 2009, Swanson filed a lawsuit against National Arbitration Forum (NAF), at that time the largest consumer arbitration organization in the country.[9] NAF had been criticized by consumer advocacy groups, U.S. Senators, and Public Citizen for bias against consumers.[10] Swanson alleged that NAF was owned by a group of equity funds that also were simultaneously affiliated with a national debt collection agency, Axiant, and the administration of the largest collection law firm at the time, Mann Brakken.[9] In July 2009 NAF signed a consent order with Swanson agreeing to stop arbitrating consumer claims. Shortly thereafter, Axiant and Mann Bracken went out of business.[11][12] Swanson was re-elected on November 2, 2010, defeating Republican challenger Chris Barden.[13]

In 2013 and 2014 Swanson took on for-profit colleges. Pointing out that over 70% of graduates of for-profit colleges earn less than high school drop outs,[14] Swanson took action against colleges who misrepresented job placement rates, who steered students to high interest rates loans, and who misrepresented the transferability of credits to other institutions.[15][16]

Swanson in 2014

In 2014, Swanson issued a scathing report on charities that contract with Savers, Inc., a for profit company that collects and sells second hand clothing through the United States and Canada.[17] Swanson said that the charities and Savers were engaged in deceptive activities because the charities received only a few pennies in exchange for the dollars received by Savers for the sale of donated clothing.[18] Swanson settled the matter in 2015 when Savers agreed to disclose that it is a for-profit company, that it will no longer commingle goods donated to specific charities, that it will disclose the amount of the revenue it receives which is donated to charity, that it will compensate charities for non-clothing items donated to the charity, and that it pay $1.8 million to the charities it serviced in the state of Minnesota.[19]

In 2014 Swanson was re-elected Attorney General, winning seven of the eight Congressional Districts in Minnesota.[20] She won with 52.6% of the vote, beating Republican Scott Newman's 39%.[21]

On February 1, 2017, Swanson joined the attorneys general of the states of Washington, New York, Virginia, and Massachusetts in bringing a lawsuit against the administration of President Donald Trump. The suit challenges the president's executive order that bans refugees and travelers from a list of predominantly Muslim nations from entering the United States. The suit alleges that the order is unconstitutional and should not be enforced.[22] Swanson issued a statement saying restricting people from certain countries "does not pass constitutional muster, is inconsistent with our history as a nation, and undermines our national security." [23]

On June 2, 2018, Swanson withdrew from seeking the DFL endorsement for Attorney General despite receiving 52% of the endorsement vote in the first round of balloting (with 60% required for endorsement). Her opponent, Matt Pelikan, had received 47% in the first round of balloting. After her withdrawal, Pelikan was endorsed as the DFL candidate for Attorney General.[24]

During her campaign for Governor, Swanson was accused by staffers in the Attorney General's office of having tasked staff to do political work related to Swanson's political campaigns.[25] Swanson denied the allegations.[26]

Awards and honors

Swanson was named one of the "Top Ten Lawyers in America" by the national publication Lawyers USA in 2009.[27] She also received the Robert Drinan "Champion of Justice" award from the National Consumer Law Center, a Washington-based non-profit organization that acts as a national clearing center and publisher for consumer lawyers and other legal advocates.[28] She was also a recipient of the Pro Patria award by the Department of Defense for her work on behalf of armed service personnel.[29] In 2010, Swanson was named Public Official of the Year by the Minnesota Nurses Association. The Drum Major Institute of New York designated Swanson's predatory mortgage legislation on one of the ten top public policies proposed in 2008.[30]

Electoral history

  • 2014 Race for Attorney General – General Election[31]
    • Lori Swanson (DFL) 52.6%
    • Scott Newman (GOP) 39%
    • Dan Vacek 2.99%
    • Brandon Borgos 2.31%
    • Mary O'Connor 1.56%
    • Andy Dawkins 1.49%
  • 2010 Race for Attorney General – General Election
    • Lori Swanson (DFL) 52.9%
    • Chris Barden (GOP) 41.27%
    • Bill Dann (IP) 5.06%
    • David Hoch (Resource Party) 0.69%
  • 2010 Race for Attorney General – DFL Primary
    • Lori Swanson 85.61%
    • Leo F. Meyer 14.39%
  • 2006 Race for Attorney General – General Election
    • Lori Swanson (DFL) 53.24%
    • Jeff Johnson (GOP) 40.72%
    • John James (IP) 4.05%
  • 2006 Race for Attorney General – DFL Primary

See also


  1. ^ a b c d "Office of Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson". Retrieved July 20, 2010. 
  2. ^ Coolican, J. Patrick. "Johnson and Walz to face off in Minnesota governor's race". StarTribune.com. Star Tribune. Retrieved 15 August 2018. 
  3. ^ "Swanson Debuts First TV Ad of Governor's Race". 
  4. ^ a b "Attorney General Lori Swanson – Biography". Project Vote Smart. Retrieved July 20, 2010. 
  5. ^ "Union's feud with Attorney General Swanson escalates". Winona Daily News. Retrieved 2018-08-15. 
  6. ^ "Union's feud with Attorney General Swanson escalates". Winona Daily News. Retrieved 2018-08-15. 
  7. ^ "Staffers detail climate of stress, politicization in AG's office". MinnPost. Retrieved 2018-08-15. 
  8. ^ "An explanation for recent agonies in attorney general's office: Mike Hatch's traumatic reign". MinnPost. Retrieved 2018-08-15. 
  9. ^ a b Swanson v. National Arbitration Forum, Hennepin County District Court, State of Minnesota, file #27-cv-09-18550
  10. ^ Berner, Robert; Grow, Brian (June 4, 2008). "Banks vs. Consumers (Guess Who Wins)". Businessweek. 
  11. ^ Hopkins, Jamie Smith (February 26, 2010). "Mann Bracken put in receivership in lieu of bankruptcy filing". The Baltimore Sun. 
  12. ^ Switzky, Bryant Ruiz (February 1, 2010). "Demise of Axiant, Mann Bracken means chaos, lost jobs". Washington Business Journal. 
  13. ^ "Ritchie, Swanson re-elected in Minn. SOS, AG races". Albert Lea Tribune. AP. November 2, 2010. 
  14. ^ Swanson, Lori (March 12, 2015). "State needs to make for-profit colleges more transparent". Star Tribune. 
  15. ^ Halperin, David (April 22, 2015). "Abuses at Corinthian Are Mirrored at Other Big For-Profit Colleges". Republic Report. 
  16. ^ Lerner, Maura; Walsh, Paul (November 24, 2014). "Lawsuit, Minnesota School of Business, Globe University, Misled Students". Star Tribune. 
  17. ^ Bjorhus, Jennifer (November 25, 2014). "Minnesota AG: Thrift Store Giant Misleading the Public". Star Tribune. 
  18. ^ "Minnesota Attorney General sues Savers for Misleading Donors," KARE Television, May 21, 2015
  19. ^ Bjorhus, "Savers Stores Settles with Minnesota Attorney General Lawsuit," StarTribune, June 25, 2015
  20. ^ Electionresults.sos.state.mn.us/results/Attorney General
  21. ^ Kather, Kathy (November 5, 2014). "Lori Swanson wins 3rd term as attorney general". Pioneer Press. 
  22. ^ Nelson, Cody. "Minnesota AG Swanson joins suit against Trump's immigration order". Retrieved 2017-02-02. 
  23. ^ "Minnesota suing Trump administration over refugee order". Star Tribune. Retrieved 2017-02-02. 
  24. ^ Magan, Christopher (2 June 2018). "Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson drops out of DFL endorsement race". Twin Cities Pioneer Press. Retrieved 4 June 2018. 
  25. ^ "Another Swanson office staffer says she was asked to do political work". Star Tribune. Retrieved 2018-08-12. 
  26. ^ "Lori Swanson hits back at former aide who says she politicized Minnesota attorney general's office". Star Tribune. Retrieved 2018-08-12. 
  27. ^ Scheck, Tom (December 21, 2009). "Swanson picked as one of "Top Ten Lawyers of the Year."". Minnesota Public Radio. 
  28. ^ Ziegler, Suzanne (October 22, 2009). "Attorney general honored for consumer advocacy work". Star Tribune. 
  29. ^ "Attorney General Swanson Receives "Pro Patria" Award". April 21, 2009. 
  30. ^ "The Attorneys General: Lori Swanson (D)". National Association of Attorneys General. Retrieved 28 October 2013. 
  31. ^ "2014 GENERAL ELECTION RESULTS". Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State. 

External links

  • Attorney General of Minnesota
Legal offices
Preceded by
Mike Hatch
Attorney General of Minnesota
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