The issue that won’t go away

These are the salient allegations from one of the attorneys general in DFLer Lori Swanson’s office at the Capitol that Tim Pugmire detailed in his story today.

  • An attorney refused orders to add inaccurate statements to a consumer’s affidavit.
  • An assistant attorney general was criticized for removing false statements that a supervisor had inserted in affidavits.
  • An attorney was ordered to invite consumers to a meeting with the attorney general, but the attorney was not allowed to tell those consumers that the event was also a press conference.
  • A supervisor asking an attorney to write a blog post lauding the Swanson administration.
  • Employees being hired with the explicit instruction that the position required loyalty to Attorney General Swanson, and that those advocating for a union were not being loyal.

    Of course anybody who’s ever read Dilbert isn’t going to do much more than shrug about the “loyalty” thing, or the blog post thing or the bringing consumers in under false pretense thing. But there are certainly questions about inserting false information into affidavits that get more uncomfortable the longer they go unchallenged.

    Attorney General Swanson’s spokesperson issued a written statement, saying it is impossible for an employer to respond to anonymous attacks from former employees or those who may be disgruntled.

    Is it impossible? The answer can be either “yes, we do add false information to affidavits” or it can be “no, we don’t and never have added false information to affidavits.”

    Meanwhile, the DFL-controlled Legislature is not embracing the idea of a hearing into the allegations, even though having Lori Swanson deny the accusations might actually be a good thing, if only to stop the appearance that any politician has when refusing to answer allegations: there’s something to hide.

    A couple of weeks ago on MPR’s Midday program, the two legislative leaders punted when asked about the issue, saying they don’t like to get involved in the affairs of the executive branch. This was just a week or so after the Legislature removed Carol Molnau as the transportation commissioner and just a week or so before a Senate committee approved a bill on Monday requiring the commissioner of transportation to appoint a deputy commissioner/chief engineer who is licensed as a professional engineer.