AG Swanson decries reopening investigation into her office

Chris Rizo Apr. 20, 2009, 3:16pm


Lori Swanson (D)

ST. PAUL, Minn. (Legal Newsline)-Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson on Monday criticized the reopening of a legislative investigation into her office.

The Democratic attorney general said the probe is being pushed by disgruntled former workers in her office.

Rep. Steve Simon, D-St. Louis Park, a former employee in the attorney general's office, has asked Legislative Auditor Jim Nobles to reexamine the management of the office's Medicaid fraud unit.

In the first probe of Swanson's office, Nobles said he did not find anything in the unit that merited further scrutiny, but has since agreed to reexamine the department.

Paul Civello, a former lawyer in the AG's office who at one time headed the Medicaid fraud unit, has accused Swanson and former Attorney General Mike Hatch of mismanaging the Medicaid fraud unit.

In June, the legislative auditor concluded his investigation of the attorney general's office. Among other criticisms, Swanson was accused of pressuring state attorneys to file high-profile cases to boost her public profile.

At the time, Nobles said allegations of ethical lapses by the attorney general in sworn testimony from seven attorneys did not provide enough evidence to investigate whether public funds were misused by her office.

"The individuals we interviewed did not cite direct and specific job-related threats from either former-Attorney General Hatch or Attorney General Swanson in connection to the events in the allegations," Nobles wrote.

Swanson had said her efforts to block state attorneys from unionizing led to the original complaints and turmoil in her office.

"The union organizers have been throwing mud at our office and its management in the hopes that it will advance their unlawful organizing campaign," she said in a statement.

From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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