Minnesota AG office accused of fraud, politicization, abuse

posted at 4:15 pm on April 21, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

Minnesotans take great pride in our political culture. We have good participation, we only elect idiots every ten years, and we have avoided the corruption of other states and places in the US. Well, we think we have, but as WCCO reports, Minnesotans who believe in clean and fair application of the law are about to come in for a rude awakening.  Present and former Attorneys General Mike Hatch and Lori Swanson stand accused of manipulating prosecutions and lawsuits for their own personal gain:

The WCCO I-TEAM first told you about expensive, sound-proof doors in the Attorney General’s Office. Now there are allegations of unethical and unlawful behavior from two former lawyers in the office speaking publicly for the first time. …

Paul Civello was a Medicaid fraud attorney under former DFL Minnesota Attorney General Mike Hatch and his successor, the DFLer Swanson.

“It was always political mode,” said Civello.

In an interview with the I-TEAM, Civello said employees were routinely pressured into working on high profile cases intended only to bring publicity and political attention to the boss.   But there’s more to his charges than just politics.

“The problem I found in the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit was an attempt to deceive the Office of Inspector General (about the make up of the unit),” said Civello.

Civello makes the claims in a sworn affidavit, in which he describes “misconduct” by two successive Democratic Attorneys General, the top law enforcement officers in the state. In one case, said Civello, a lawyer was hired under a different title in order to receive federal funding.  Another attorney, who still works in the AG’s office, writes in a memo that “this amounted to fraud.”

This shouldn’t surprise anyone who saw Mike Hatch in action.  Last summer, an investigation revealed that Hatch purposely lowballed a settlement with a credit-card company he sued in order to keep control of where the money went.  He gave a substantial amount of the settlement to ACORN, which then endorsed him against Tim Pawlenty for Governor, a race Hatch just barely lost in 2006.  Swanson worked at the AG office as his protege and won her office in the same election.

The sound-proof doors are an example of potential petty corruption.  The allegations from Civello are much more profound.  He accuses the present and former AGs of manipulating prosecutions for personal political gain, a major abuse of power that would reveal Minnesota government to be much more corrupt than anyone realizes.  The AG’s office exists to enforce the law in an equitable and fair manner, not to act as shakedown artists for ambitious politicians.

Fortunately, the legislature has issued a call for an investigation on a bipartisan basis.  If what Civello says is true, the Minnesota legislature must act quickly and forcefully to put an end to these practices, potentially by impeaching Swanson if the charges are substantiated and referring the information to the Minnesota State Bar for further action.  Minnesotans want a government in which they can take pride apart from the policies that each officeholder brings.  We like to limit our embarrassment to the buffoons we occasionally elect to high office.


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I’m Shocked!

Firebird on April 21, 2009 at 4:19 PM

Corruption!? Democrats?! Acorn?!!

Gadzooks, I must hie me to my fainting couch.

maladapted on April 21, 2009 at 4:22 PM

Dems involved in abuse of office scandals? This cannot possibly be true! They’re Dems, therefore laws do not apply – thus no scandal.

Vic on April 21, 2009 at 4:23 PM

Gadzooks, I must hie me to my fainting couch.

maladapted on April 21, 2009 at 4:22 PM

Hilarious!

jazz_piano on April 21, 2009 at 4:23 PM

Shows a long standing and institutionalized pattern of corruption. What will the AG, Dems, do about it? They will play the blame game and accuse the accuser and bring the power of their office to squelch investigations. In other words they will act like Democrats.

Kuffar on April 21, 2009 at 4:25 PM

Culture of Corruption.

“This is a distraction”- Any democrat.

portlandon on April 21, 2009 at 4:26 PM

I liked Mike hatch when I lived in MN. As AG he helped me get a small settlement from US West (now QWEST) who gave me the shaft. I had waited 3 months for basic phone service. To this day I never understood why it took them that long to run a newe phone line in from the street…they just kept putting me off. I knew Hatch was ruthless…didn’t know this ruthless.

jbh45 on April 21, 2009 at 4:26 PM

Is there any scandal that doesn’t involve Acorn?

LASue on April 21, 2009 at 4:26 PM

why is this news? I fully expect that many of my elected representatives behave like this

gatorboy on April 21, 2009 at 4:27 PM

So Minnesota is now an Illinois annex? Move, Ed! Move!

Driefromseattle on April 21, 2009 at 4:28 PM

Upon hearing that their AG crony was in trouble a corrupt three judge panel immediately tried to appoint him senator.

viking01 on April 21, 2009 at 4:28 PM

Now, just by any chance does have anything to do with Al Franken?

bloggless on April 21, 2009 at 4:28 PM

The Democrat Party is the conscience and intellect of our nation. Let us respect those who are better than we.

/sarc

Not that the GOP can toss too many rocks–glass accommodations and such.

jazz_piano on April 21, 2009 at 4:28 PM

Would Coleman consider this a gift on a silver platter?

bloggless on April 21, 2009 at 4:29 PM

LASue on April 21, 2009 at 4:26 PM

ACORN isn’t involved in any scandals. They’re just victims of a reich-wing smear machine! All ACORN wants is for every little child in the nation to have a puppy! Why do you hate children so much that you would deny them the unending joy of a puppy?!?!

Vic on April 21, 2009 at 4:30 PM

Zoinks!

kirkill on April 21, 2009 at 4:31 PM

OT:
Bush Saved Los Angeles?

faraway on April 21, 2009 at 4:34 PM

This is why you need more sharia law in Minnesota.

BL@KBIRD on April 21, 2009 at 4:34 PM

Would Coleman consider this a gift on a silver platter?

bloggless on April 21, 2009 at 4:29 PM

Won’t help Norm at all, unless Norm decides to run for AG in 2010. Now, a similar investigation of SecState Mark Ritchie (DFL-ACORN) would help rather a lot.

Mr. D on April 21, 2009 at 4:34 PM

Ed, stop living in the past. Don’t dwell on the mis-deeds of the past. Think of the future. Only the future. Our future is in the future.

Don’t you get it?

BobMbx on April 21, 2009 at 4:34 PM

State AGs being heavy handed???? You don’t say.

Color me unsurprised at this!

Gothguy on April 21, 2009 at 4:35 PM

Not a surprise at all. My impression was always that Swanson was just a figurehead for Hatch anyway, so he could resign to make his run for office.

coyoterex on April 21, 2009 at 4:35 PM

It is usually the case that those that point fingers and accuse others of “sinful” activities are usually even more involved in similar activities. Such is the case with Democrats and their constant din of, “Republicans are corrupt scum.”

The media just usually low balls the democratic malfeasance. The truth is corruption is a disease among all political persuasions. We need to make some examples out of politicians and impose serious jail sentences on those involved in criminal activities at all levels of government.

kagai on April 21, 2009 at 4:38 PM

Hatch and Swanson are both self-promoting hacks. I had some personal experience with both of them while working on mortgage legislation that they supported. This bill was so bad it would have caused every lender to pull out of Minnesota. Swanson spoke about it like she was saving the world from terrorists. Thank goodness Gov. Pawlenty was the grownup in the room and vetoed it.

rockmom on April 21, 2009 at 4:41 PM

I ask you, where is the RNC with the full page ad listing all the corrupt Democrats?

anniekc on April 21, 2009 at 4:41 PM

Ed, moving isn’t going to solve the problem.

Where have all the good people gone, and where are those who Fight?

Where the Right can stand there and look into lying eyes!

Isn’t there a bright star, upon this fire of Deed?

Late at night he tosses and turns and dreams of Blogggginnnngggggg!

:) We needa Hawaiian Shirt wearing HERO!

upinak on April 21, 2009 at 4:41 PM

What no hookers? Pikers.

Iblis on April 21, 2009 at 4:43 PM

Hey…! All you HATERS out there. Leave the Beyatch alone.

Can’t she eat her waffle…? or something…?

Kuffar on April 21, 2009 at 4:46 PM

Where’s Darth Vader when you need some house cleaning?

Weebork on April 21, 2009 at 4:48 PM

You mean the same state that gave us the FrankenClown to the Senate?

They have corruption?

Nooooo!

kybowexar on April 21, 2009 at 4:50 PM

Gov. The Body and the Wellstone memorial service cum partisan pep rally…hmmm, in Minnesota, you say?

Christien on April 21, 2009 at 4:51 PM

Even though I’m a republican, I voted for Hatch. He was an SOB, but an Attorney General should be an SOB. Swanson though it a lightweight that only got in b/c of the Dem 06 wave.

IR-MN on April 21, 2009 at 4:52 PM

OT:
Bush Saved Los Angeles?

faraway on April 21, 2009 at 4:34 PM

Why?

izoneguy on April 21, 2009 at 4:52 PM

Isn’t there a single politician in this country who isn’t corrupt? Geez!

orlandocajun on April 21, 2009 at 4:53 PM

It’s Bush’s fault…

Has to be..

patch on April 21, 2009 at 4:58 PM

Next we will find out that the office of elections has political connections.

MarkTheGreat on April 21, 2009 at 4:59 PM

WCCO isn’t that the station that got off for lying and slander by admitting to “misleading and exaggerating” Every 10 years? Try Wellstone, Dayton and Franken for starters. Then there was Governor Goofy from dah range. Throw in a few mayors and Minnesota is a disaster area headed for greater stardom.

rsl775 on April 21, 2009 at 5:04 PM

Anybody paying attention knew that Hatch’s #1, #2, and #3 priorities were to get elected as governor; the AG office was just a means to an end. Not surprised.

Hollowpoint on April 21, 2009 at 5:11 PM

Then there was Governor Goofy from dah range.

rsl775 on April 21, 2009 at 5:04 PM

Rudy Perpich!

Wethal on April 21, 2009 at 5:28 PM

We like to limit our embarrassment to the buffoons we occasionally elect to high office.

Oh my gudness! Chew meen dat Mike Hatch fella vasn’t so nice, den?
An now ve got dat awful man Franken goin’ ta Vashington, too?
Vut ur dey gonna du nex?
Trow anudder log onda fire, Ed. Ver in fer a lon vinter dis zommer…
Chevens ta Betsy, fer Pete’s sake…

Bruno Strozek on April 21, 2009 at 5:28 PM

If there is corruption at that level, where else does it exist? In the tabulation of senatorial votes perhaps?

docdave on April 21, 2009 at 5:30 PM

a scandle in minnesota i cannot believe this, how can it be not minnesota.yes thats are old friend sarcasm

wade underhile on April 21, 2009 at 5:41 PM

I’m SICK of the corruption of liberals.

Especially now, when everything they do affects us more greatly than ever.

When is somebody going to DO SOMETHING???? And, more importantly, who has the power to do something? I guess nobody.

We’re f*cked, nationally and at the state level.

13Girl on April 21, 2009 at 5:45 PM

Typical lib, she comes back with an ad hominem attack. Isn’t that S.O.P. for Democrats?

Christian Conservative on April 21, 2009 at 5:56 PM

I ask you, where is the RNC with the full page ad listing all the corrupt Democrats?

anniekc on April 21, 2009 at 4:41 PM

1. A single page is not enough.
2. It’s not a good idea to give money to newspapers which use that money to support Democrats.

HotWeaver on April 21, 2009 at 5:58 PM

Wow another corrupt Dem, who would have guess it?

Frances on April 21, 2009 at 5:59 PM

Is there any scandal that doesn’t involve Acorn?

LASue on April 21, 2009 at 4:26 PM

Is there any Acorn that doesn’t involve scandal?

FIFY on April 21, 2009 at 4:26 PM

UNREPENTANT CONSERVATIVE CAPITOLIST on April 21, 2009 at 6:01 PM

I’ve heard that when people start drinking, they stop maturing. From his responses here, getalife started drinking when he was 12. He needs to get offline and get into a serious adult program. Irrational children should be ignored.

SoldiersMom on April 21, 2009 at 6:09 PM

A disappointing kick in the gut to state pride, and yet I know there are some people who will simply say “so what”.

The AG’s office exists to enforce the law in an equitable and fair manner, not to act as shakedown artists for ambitious politicians.

Sacred to corrupt. The betrayal of the American citizenry.

canditaylor68 on April 21, 2009 at 6:10 PM

I think it’s about time MN stopped trying to play the holier than thou card on the rest of the country, no?

jnelchef on April 21, 2009 at 6:19 PM

Rigging elections is their specialty.

OxyCon on April 21, 2009 at 6:34 PM

This is no surprise what so ever. She learned well from Hatch who never met a tv camera he didn’t like. All he ever did was stir things up then walk away.
Because he wanted some headlines for an election, he “exposed” some people for, what he thought was, excessive use of company privileges. He didn’t hurt the people at the top at all. All that happened was things were taken away from the worker bees like hot meals in the lunchroom and other such goodies.
Thanks Mike. Looks like you’ve trained Lori well.

oakpack on April 21, 2009 at 7:35 PM

Don’t worry, Stuart Smalley will represent our state well (not).

Captain America on April 21, 2009 at 7:46 PM

While the DFL-dominqated legislature should be forced to move quickly if the alleged wrong-doing is proven, I don’t hold out hope of that happening. This post explains why:

As I recall, the House voted 129-0, on two seperate votes, to conduct a hearing on this. I don’t recall ever hearing anything about Rep. Sertich’s conversation with the House legal counsel’s office.

Chairman Sertich, who also doubles as the House Majority Leader, never mentioned that the OLA (Office of Legislative Audits) told him not to conduct a full-scale hearing.

It’s time this got settled once & for all.

LFRGary on April 21, 2009 at 8:12 PM

WCCO isn’t that the station that got off for lying and slander by admitting to “misleading and exaggerating”…

rsl775 on April 21, 2009 at 5:04 PM

Well WCCO is owned by the rabidly liberal CBS and they happily toe the liberal corporate line.

RJL on April 21, 2009 at 9:07 PM

I’m shocked, SHOCKED that the DFL is corrupt.

steveegg on April 21, 2009 at 9:11 PM

I’m surprised and shocked WCCO-TV broke the story.

Everyone in Minnesota knows that Mike Hatch is a publicity whore on the order of Jesse Jackson. The most dangerous place in Minnesota was between Hatch and the nearest TV camera.

Fact is we have no idea how much voter fraud is actually occuring in Minnesota, the procedures and policies are designed for honest people – there are few checks to prevent voter fraud and nothing to detect fraud once it has occurred. Of course the DFL, created this mess and refuses to fix it claiming there aren’t any problems.

Dr. Bob on April 21, 2009 at 11:25 PM

I must strongly disagree. MN elects idiots every 2 years. Have you checked the state senate and legislature lately?

Dasher on April 22, 2009 at 8:50 AM

No corruption here! It’s for the children after all…

sabbott on April 22, 2009 at 9:25 AM

Not the Attorney general I knew.

seven on April 22, 2009 at 11:15 AM

So now after watching the report, it seems she is in it for showmanship on one hand and blackmailing drug companies on the other./ The truth comes out. So she does name calling. The “angry old man” labeling.

seven on April 22, 2009 at 11:23 AM

Did a bunch of Chicagoians move to MN?

regmgr on April 22, 2009 at 2:06 PM