Hatch (left) and Swanson (center)
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Minnesota's incoming Democrat attorney general Lori Swanson has laid out her forthcoming legal agenda amidst growing calls for her to sideline unpopular former Attorney General Mike Hatch. Swanson announced this week that Hatch, her former boss who lost the recent governor's race to incumbent Republican Tim Pawlenty in what was otherwise a statewide Democratic landslide, will join her staff. She said Hatch will be establishing a "complex-litigation" team within the AG's office and will receive an annual salary of $107,000 compared to Swanson's AG salary of $114,297. Swanson, solicitor-general under Hatch as AG, chose three populist-type issues to headline her 2007 agenda. She wants to protect borrowers from what she terms "abusive home-lending practices" and protect Internet users from cybercrimes like child solicitation. She also aims to improve financial relief and educational benefits to current and former military service members. But Swanson is also taking heat for appointing Hatch, who has a reputation as a hothead and has a penchant for litigating Minnesota business. A recent opinion column in the Minneapolis Star Tribune called on Swanson to get rid of Hatch, whom she first started working for almost 20 years ago, and to be her own woman as attorney general. Otherwise, the piece warned, "one piece of 'complex litigation' could keep Hatch employed through at least two or three more attorneys general." But Swanson defended Hatch in an interview with the Associated Press as "an extraordinarily talented attorney." She pointed out that Hatch was making a "financial sacrifice" by taking the AG-office job as he had received many other job offers since his failed governor's run. She added that such a decision "speaks very well to his character."