Swanson fires key critic

Chris Rizo May 27, 2008, 8:38pm

Lori Swanson

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (Legal Newsline)-Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson fired a state attorney who accused her of unethical behavior on Tuesday, the same day a report rebuked claims that two consumer lawsuits filed by her office were crafted as part of a public-relations strategy.

Assistant Attorney General Amy Lawler, who had been on administrative leave for two months and was a vocal Swanson critic, was fired, The Associated Press reported.

Lawler, who sought to help unionize the attorney general's office, claimed she and others faced pressure to file lawsuits to further Swanson's political agenda.

The report from University of St. Thomas Law School Dean Thomas Mengler is considered less independent than the other inquiry by Legislative Auditor Jim Nobles since Swanson enlisted Mengler to probe the accusations.

Mengler said in the report that he lacked key investigative powers, inhibiting his ability to seek sworn testimony and promise confidentiality to witnesses.

Mengler said he found "no evidence of any unprofessional conduct on the part of Attorney General Swanson, Deputy Attorney General Karen Olson or any other attorneys in connection with the prefiling activity and the filing of mortgage foreclosure consultant suits on December 6, 2007."

Swanson said in a statement that Lawler's accusations were given too much weight by the media.

"They also ignored the fact that with only 90 days experience in the office, the attorney was in a questionable position to judge the procedures utilized by the office," Swanson wrote.

From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo by e-mail at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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