A young woman was expecting her first child. After spending all her money on a crib and supplies for her baby, she received notification that her insurance company raised her deductible by $500. Having no idea what to do, she turned to the Attorney General’s Office.
This was my first experience with the Attorney General’s Office.
When Minnesotans call the Attorney General’s Office, most times their issue does not rise to the level of national attention, but it may be the most important issue in their life. It could be about their job, their housing, debt collection or refusal by their insurance company to pay a bill. No one is too big to be above the law, and no one is too small to be below its protection. This principle is why I am running to be Minnesota’s attorney general.
Before I was a legislator I was an advocate for those dealing with domestic violence, helping female and male victims of domestic assault. In the 1990s, advocates would go to the scene of the assault and help victims clean up from the incident. If they wanted an order for protection, I would take them to the courthouse and help them through the process.
I have served in the Minnesota House for 18 years, and put myself through law school while I served. I became a prosecutor for the Anoka County Attorney’s Office, prosecuting cases of financial exploitation of vulnerable adults, domestic abuse and people who sell illegal firearms. While serving in the House, I focused on public safety and consumer protection and chaired the Judiciary Committee.
The primary job of the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office is consumer protection. I am a proven fighter. As your attorney general, I will never back away from a hard fight when it comes to protecting Minnesotans.
Two of my proudest moments as a legislator were taking on payday lenders who targeted our veterans and protecting vulnerable adults. Payday lenders would get veterans to sign over their benefits and give them a little bit of money up front, charging outrageous interest. I took on payday lenders, changed the law and stopped the practice.
In 2009 I passed a law that made it easier to prosecute cases of financial exploitation of vulnerable adults, and created the 1-800 number you call to report abuse, neglect and financial exploitation. Then I went to the courtroom and prosecuted those cases. Having written the law and defended it, I have a unique perspective.
The attorney general’s job has changed. Attorneys general from across the country are joining together to sue the president and U.S. secretary of education over the travel ban, protecting DACA recipients, protecting students from government changes to student loans and holding accountable private colleges that commit fraud. As your attorney general, I will continue these fights.
The attorney general sues corporations, insurance companies, nonprofits and others who seriously and persistently violate the law. Health care is a major part of the work of the attorney general. I will work to ensure that health care insurance companies follow the law, so all Minnesotans have access to health care.
We must hold pharmaceutical companies that make generic medications accountable for price gouging. We cannot allow large entities, whether they are corporations or nonprofits, to interfere with the ability of Minnesotans to get the medications they need. There are currently 20 active lawsuits against these companies, and I will continue to hold them accountable.
Pharmaceutical companies are responsible for the opioid epidemic. These companies lied to doctors and others when they claimed opioids were not addictive. As a result, opioids were overprescribed, and Minnesotans are dying. As attorney general I will hold pharmaceutical companies accountable here in Minnesota, and I will join the national lawsuit. I have taken on pharmaceutical companies in the Legislature, and I will take them on as your attorney general.
I am proud to carry the endorsements of the Minnesota Professional Firefighters Association, the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association, Women Winning, the Teamsters, the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees and Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way. I have earned their trust and support, and now I ask for yours in the DFL primary on Aug. 14.
Debra Hilstrom, DFL-Brooklyn Center, is a member of the Minnesota House.