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Lori Swanson

Weird happenings with DFL Convention and Filings

by Eric Ferguson on June 6, 2018 · 0 comments

Pelikan pelican from outside DFL state conventionSo by now, you’ve likely had your head spinning from the news from the DFL side regarding who is running for what, and lots of candidates coming out of the woodwork to run for this and switch to that, and run for something when they were running for something else. It’s interesting, at least to a politics junkie, and you’re reading this web site, so…

You were likely looking at the governor race, and this involves that to be sure. You may not have been following closely enough to know the candidate filing period just closed, or you heard but didn’t care what that meant. The weirdness has a whole lot to do with that however. It all starts, however, with the race for state attorney general (AG). Yes, an office a lot of people haven’t even heard of.


2018 DFL State Convention Day 2

by Eric Ferguson on June 2, 2018 · 7 comments

Yesterday’s live blog got really long, so I decided to start a fresh post for today. See yesterday for an intro to what a live blog is, disclosure of biases, yesterday’s events, and I’m unlikely to explain procedural stuff or regurgitate opinions explained in yesterday’s live blog.
If you want to watch the live stream, go to The Uptake web site. If you want to glance over at the MNGOP convention also going this weekend, go here.
Today is governor and attorney general. My wife snapped a photo of the Matt Pelikan pelican in the concourse outside the convention hall. That’s fun.
Pelikan pelican from outside DFL state convention
The convention has reconvened. Lots of delegates missed yesterday, unsurprisingly since governor is the big attraction, so rules and procedures are being explained again. The noise level on the floor is more obvious here than watching on the live stream. So if you’re streaming, feel smug that you can hear better than people here. Though those of us here can hear the videos since we’re not under Youtube’s thumb. So there.


DFL State Convention Live Blog

by Eric Ferguson on May 31, 2018 · 3 comments

The DFL state convention starts tomorrow (or today if you’re reading this on June 1). A “live blog” means that I’ll be blogging about it as it happens rather than writing up something later. I’ll be explaining what’s going on, and maybe opining on some things. We’ll see what provokes me to opinionating. The current plan is to watch the livestream on The Uptake Friday, which obviously you can watch yourself and I’ll post a link so you can do that. Saturday, I’m hoping to be there watching in person, so hopefully I’ll pick up some stuff that’s not apparent on the livestream. Sunday will likely be another livestream day. Yes, I maybe could have gotten a hotel if I hadn’t been so cheap and tried to reserve a room early enough and blah de blah. Fortunately I live in daytripping distance.

Convening time Friday is 4. The rest of the schedule I assume will be adjusted according to circumstances. The proposed agenda is posted here. Emphasis on proposed, since delegates can move to change the agenda when the rules and agenda are debated, and you never know for sure what will be proposed and what will pass. I’ve run some conventions as a local party chair, and worked on some as a committee member or with a campaign, and can attest that unexpected changes get made. I’ll spare you the “expect the unexpected” cliche — except I guess I just didn’t. You should have expected that. What you can expect is I will explain some of the “what on earth are they talking about” parts that conventions have.
Probably, you care more about the state office endorsements and not committee reports or party office elections or rules debates. So, according to the proposed agenda, Friday will see the endorsements for the US Senate seats and Secretary of State. Attorney General and Governor are scheduled for Saturday, and Auditor is scheduled for Sunday.
Actual updates and reportage start below. Keep refreshing during the convention for updates. If you’re curious about the 2014 or 2016 convention, check out those live blogs. See if you can catch me griping the same gripes (yes, you can).



Big Polluters target state attorneys general

by Dan Burns on June 22, 2016 · 0 comments

desertAnd in some cases they’re using sorry red state AG’s to do it. Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson is part of a coalition looking to hold Big Filthy Fossil Fuels accountable on climate change. She is not among those being directly targeted in this petty, vindictive fashion, yet. But it’s presumably just a matter of time.

ExxonMobil has sued to derail a second attorney general’s investigation of the oil giant’s climate record.
The company filed a complaint in federal district court in Fort Worth on (June 15) against Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey. Her office subpoenaed Exxon records going back 40 years in an investigation of whether the company committed consumer or securities fraud by misrepresenting its knowledge of climate change.
In the same court, Exxon has a similar suit pending against Claude Walker, the attorney general of the U.S. Virgin Islands, who has launched a similar probe. Healey and Walker are part of a coalition of Democratic attorneys general trying to hold fossil fuel companies legally accountable for their conduct on climate change. The group was organized by New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, whose office initiated an Exxon inquiry last year.
(Inside Climate News)

You could call it the battle of the attorneys general: one side representing the public interest, exactly what attorneys general are supposed to do; the other side representing the special interests, exactly what they are not supposed to do.
In late March, 17 attorneys general held a press conference to announce they will defend the new federal rule curbing power plant carbon emissions and investigate energy companies that may have misled investors and the public about climate risks. They call themselves AGs United for Clean Power, and so far attorneys general from California, Massachusetts, New York and the Virgin Islands have launched investigations of ExxonMobil, the world’s largest publicly traded oil company, for fraud.
In response, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange decided to push back. On May 16, they intervened on behalf of ExxonMobil to quash one of the investigations of the Irving, Texas-based company, accusing AGs United for Clean Power of trying to stifle the “debate” over climate science.
(Huffington Post)


sadelephantWell, for our side, the popular incumbent, Lori Swanson. For the GOP…honestly, I looked pretty hard, and eventually found my way to the “candidates” page on the MN GOP website, which does seem to be up to date with all of those shiny happy mugs.

If you’re into it, you can do a little reverse Waldo and see what you can’t find.
That’s right. The Republican Party of Minnesota has no candidate for Attorney General. Not a single ambitious lawyer, of conservative political persuasion, apparently cares to undertake this challenge, despite the potential reward. Not even with the powerful support of the Minnesota GOP infrastructure. That last sentence is satire.
Current Minnesota State Auditor Rebecca Otto is supposedly vulnerable, for having had the temerity to suggest that perhaps mining companies should be made to provide appropriately sized sureties, to deal with the environmental damage that their operations will likely cause. (Actually, much of the potential damage caused by large-scale, long-term sulfide mining operations is not of the sort that you just “clean up.” But that’s another issue.) Yet all that the Minnesota GOP can manage here is the guy that couldn‘t even get the GOP endorsement in 2010, Randy Gilbert.

Maybe, outside of corporate media, there aren’t so many believers that this will be a wave election for Minnesota Republicans, after all.


Zellers tries his own version of Willie Horton

by Eric Ferguson on November 10, 2013 · 1 comment

zellers-beerFormer State House Speaker Kurt Zellers, now a candidate for governor, decided to do a little grandstanding outside the AG’s office in hopes finding his own Willie Horton. Zellers was hoping to get after Gov. Mark Dayton over the Thomas Duvall case, a repeat rapist who may be released from the state facility for sex offenders. Ostensibly Zellers was delivering a letter to State Attorney General Lori Swanson supporting her opposition to releasing Duvall, apparently forgetting the Postal Service is still functional despite GOP efforts. As it turns out, Zellers was looking to make an attack on Dayton, blaming him for a dangerous person being released, though not directly. He’s letting some anonymous person do it with Zellers conveniently not correcting her, “One of the hockey moms said to me at practice on Sunday, ‘Why the hell would the governor let this guy out?’ And that’s the problem.”


In case Willie Horton is too far in the past to jump readily to mind, and it’s not clear what Zellers hopes to accomplish with his own version of that attack, Horton was an imprisoned criminal in Massachusetts who received a furlough, and committed a murder. Gov. Michael Dukakis wasn’t governor when the furlough program was started, nor did the governor run it, but Dukakis was governor when Horton committed murder while furloughed, and he was the Democratic presidential nominee in 1988. The Bush Sr. campaign, knowing Dukakis wasn’t involved but unable to resist the convenient timing, ran the infamous “Willie Horton ad”, accusing Dukakis of letting criminals run loose. Dukakis decided to respond with a variety of the “I won’t dignify that with a response” defense, meaning no defense at all, so Bush Sr. made Horton the central issue of the campaign. Bush Sr. won.


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Minnesota AG investigating for-profit colleges

by Dan Burns on February 20, 2013 · 1 comment

Lori Swanson is a pretty darn good attorney general. It would be great if there were more like her, including at the federal level. Not so terrified of rubbing rich people the wrong way, you know.


Minnesota’s attorney general is investigating aggressive recruiting by for-profit colleges of military veterans, who have access to lucrative GI Bill benefits.


AG Lori Swanson alleges that the colleges‘ ad campaigns can be manipulative and misleading, leaving many veterans with big federal loans they are unable to repay, the Star Tribune reports. She also alleges that the schools are deceptive about graduation and placement rates, and that recruiters who never were in the military would wear a uniform when closing a sale on a veteran.


“It’s a sales-oriented mentality — sign the students up, bring them in the door, maximize the profits regardless of the student’s best interest,” she said.


I was unable to find any public comment on this by Rep. John Kline (R-MN), who is widely regarded as the best buddy of for-profits – the shadier the better – in the U.S. Congress.

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Settlement Should Help Some Minnesotans

by Dan Burns on February 16, 2012 · 0 comments

Some Minnesota homeowners should get some assistance, under the terms of the foreclosure settlement deal announced last week.

The $25 billion settlement with Minnesota and 48 other states includes cash payments, refinancing and principal reductions for people who had home loans with Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup and Ally Financial. Minnesota’s portion of the bank-funded settlement is up to $280 million…

Swanson said the settlement aims to prevent future foreclosures by putting in place new, strict standards for loan servicers. Applications for loan modifications and short sales must be processed within 30 days. And banks can’t start foreclosure proceedings on a borrower with a pending loan modification…

Minnesota Attorney General Swanson is urging people who think they may be eligible for help from the settlement to contact her office.

Dig, I’ve got more links, information, and remarks, below the fold.
This is called “The Top Twelve Reasons Why You Should Hate the Mortgage Settlement,” and it’s been widely linked in the progressive blogosphere. There’s no way to really quote a representative summary;  here’s the conclusion:

As we’ve said before, this settlement is yet another raw demonstration of who wields power in America, and it isn’t you and me. It’s bad enough to see these negotiations come to their predictable, sorry outcome. It adds insult to injury to see some try to depict it as a win for long suffering, still abused homeowners.

A lot of people, including far too many associated with the White House, wanted the lenders/foreclosure machines let off entirely.  After all, they claim, rather piteously, the money men were just engaged in the exalted undertaking of “creating shareholder value” via the “magic of the market.”

Hard to believe that anyone still buys that crap, but when you’ve become rich and powerful due to the sick, twisted reality – or are convinced that you’re going to, someday, since Almighty Reagan guaranteed it – well, I suppose that that’s a pretty powerful motivator to buy into any kind of ostensibly likely-sounding bulls**t, as justification.  Especially if you’re none too bright to begin with.

This article isn’t positive, either, on the whole, but it worked for me to lift the following from:

The banks are getting off pretty damn easy on the financial side of this. What makes the settlement less of a disaster than what it looked like even a few months ago is that, thanks to the concerted efforts of a handful of attorneys general (Eric Schneiderman of New York, Kamala Harris of California, Catherine Cortez-Masto of Nevada, Beau Biden of Delaware, Martha Coakley of Massachusetts and Lori Swanson of Minnesota) who refused to sign on to an agreement that gave the banks blanket immunity, legal immunity has been limited to banks very narrowly to robo-signing issues, and investigation of the residential mortgage backed securities market can still procede.

The lawsuits brought by Schneiderman in New York, Biden in Delaware and Coakley in Massachusetts will proceed. Additionally, Harris has preserved her right to undertake separate litigation under the California False Claims Act. What’s more, no private rights of action have been waived-individual homeowners can still sue for foreclosure fraud.

The concessions that those hold-out attorneys general were able to wring out the banks were critical for investigations and potential prosecutions in the massive fraud these banks committed. Those investigations, at the state and federal level, if pursued with vigor and a real intention to hold the banks accountable could potentially do what this settlement absolutely won’t: Force the banks to reform.

Overall, I’d call this typical Obama:  trying to get the best deal he can, for as many people as he can, out of a degraded, corrupt system.  I’d have pushed harder (that $300 billion figure that I’ve seen used, frequently, sounds a lot more like it);  it’s easy for me to sit here and type that.  I don’t have his job, and I can’t really get my head around the harsh, all-but-insane corner of reality that he wakes up to, every damn day.


Right now, state and federal officials are negotiating a settlement with the five largest perpetrators of our foreclosure crisis.  The settlement would be in the ballpark of $20-25 billion.  But the most glaring part of this proposed agreement is the freedom from all liability for their criminal conduct.

Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson took a stand on behalf of what is right:

Banks shouldn’t be protected from liability for mortgage securitization as part of a national foreclosure settlement, said Minnesota’s attorney general, joining other states voicing concern over the issue.

Any settlement shouldn’t release the banks from liability for the bundling of mortgages into securities or for the use of a mortgage registry known as MERS, Attorney General Lori Swanson said in a Sept. 9 letter obtained by Bloomberg News.

“The banks should not be released from liability for conduct that has not been investigated and is not appropriately remedied in any settlement,” Swanson wrote to her counterparts in New York and Iowa.

If I were to create a Ponzi Scheme selling my debt as a lucrative investment, I’d be in jail.  The only reason its taken this long for any kind of punishment to appear on the horizon is that the banksters own Congress.


We haven’t really discussed the Attorney General’s race too much this cycle — the seat has been held by a DFLer since time immemorial, and current AG Lori Swanson hasn’t done much to disappoint Minnesota in her first term. After all, as one experienced campaign operative once told me, “what, you think Minnesota’s going to vote for a Republican to do consumer protection?”

And it’s a salient point. In Minnesota the Attorney General is the head consumer protection advocate, charged with enforcing all existing corporate regulations and liaising with the Legislature on large-scale legal matters. The Tea Party’s platform opposes most if not all existing corporate regulations and consumer protections for some awful reason or another, so could a candidate like Chris Barden really be trusted with the job?

Cue the comparisons to Dan “I’d like to be called Doc for the Google Juice please” Severson, Republican nominee for Secretary of State, who complains about the current regulations on the books but is running for an office charged with enforcing those existing regulations to the best of his ability. Makes you wonder if these candidates actually read the job descriptions before deciding to run, doesn’t it? I digress. Onward.

Swanson isn’t Superwoman. Nor is she, in my personal opinion, currently a “candidate to watch” for higher office down the road. She had a tough row to hoe in stepping out from Mike Hatch’s shadow, and has had some rough patches doing that and dealing with some labor issues in the AG’s office which continue to be rumored but never spoken about on the record.

However, she is a good lawyer who’s done pretty well by Minnesota as its Attorney General, and deserves a second term.

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