Attorney general's office turmoil prompts inquiry request

  • Updated: March 13, 2008 - 7:56 PM

A leading House Republican is requesting a formal investigation into developments at the Minnesota Attorney General's office that include allegations of punishment against an attorney for going public with ethical concerns and of intimidation of workers who are trying to organize a union.

Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Delano, deputy House minority leader, sent letters to legislative leaders and to the Minnesota Bureau of Mediation Services on Wednesday seeking the inquiry regarding the office of DFL Attorney General Lori Swanson.

"The actions in the attorney general's office during the past year have become an unnecessary concern for public employees in that office," Emmer wrote to Mediation Services.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 5, the union pursuing the organizing effort, has contended that the attorney general's office has created an atmosphere of intimidation for attorneys seeking to unionize and stifled criticism.

Most recently, an assistant attorney general who is an advocate of the organizing effort, Amy Lawler, was placed on administrative leave after she spoke to reporters about ethical concerns she had over how some consumer protection lawsuits were handled.

Swanson's office said Lawler was placed on paid leave not because of union-related activities or for speaking to the media, but because she failed to report her concerns as required to the Minnesota Board of Professional Responsibility.

Since last year, Emmer has repeatedly called for a legislative hearing on the attorney general's office, but so far DFL leadership has not scheduled one. He made the same request on the House floor Tuesday to Majority Leader Tony Sertich, DFL-Chisholm, who said he was unsure about when or whether such a hearing might take place.

MARK BRUNSWICK

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