Shake-ups Continue in Minnesota Attorney General’s Office

Minnesota Attorney GeneralAfter nearly a year and a half in office, Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson’s office continues to be plagued by staff dissension.

The Star Tribune reports that an independent investigation of the office by St. Thomas Law Dean Thomas Mengler cleared the Attorney General of wrongdoing related to her handling of cases in the office. In response to the investigation report, Attorney General Swanson fired the attorney who brought the original complaint.

“Mengler said Swanson did not ask him to address broader concerns raised by [the fired attorney] on office morale and attempts by staff attorneys in the attorney general’s office to form a union…

Mengler’s 19-page report comes as the legislative auditor is conducting a separate probe into the attorney general’s office.”

At the same time, local online newspaper, MinnPost, has published a critique of the Attorney General’s Office and lays the blame for any mismanagement there at the feet of former Attorney General Mike Hatch.

“The recent agonies of the Minnesota attorney general’s office under Lori Swanson (an alarming turnover rate in the office, a futile unionization effort blocked by Swanson, a series of allegations that lawyers in the office felt pressured to do things they considered unethical and a preliminary investigation by the legislative auditor, which may be released any day now) are really the latest symptoms of trauma that goes back nine years and starts with two words:

Mike Hatch.

One former assistant attorney general said that when people ask him what he thinks about the turmoil of Swanson’s first year, he replies: ‘Are you kidding me? None of this is new. All of this has been happening since Hatch took over…’

[Hatch] defends his management of the office and blames the current controversies on a ‘small cabal of attorneys’ who are trying to unionize the office. He said they hide behind anonymity to throw mud at their bosses and look ‘for any scribner to serve as their hand maiden.'”

To what degree do internal staff frustrations impact the operations of the Attorney General’s Office and its service to the State of Minnesota?

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