Lori Swanson under more pressure after another ex-staffer speaks out

She's been accused of using Attorney General office staff to aid her political campaigns.
Author:
Publish date:

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Lori Swanson is under more pressure on Friday after another report she pressured staff at the Attorney General's office to assist with her political campaigns.

Minnesota's Attorney General was the subject of an article by The Intercept earlier this week in which several staffers – most of them speaking anonymously – said they felt pressured to help Swanson with her campaign efforts, and claimed those who did help were more likely to get promotions and pay raises.

Swanson rejected the claims, saying her office had only ever given promotions based on merit and suggested the revelations were "politically-motivated," as well as sending local media three sets of articles in which The Intercept's journalism has been criticized.

But on Thursday, The Intercept published another story in which one of Swanson's former deputies, D'Andre Norman, went on the record about the initial allegations, telling the website: "It was all true, unfortunately. Nothing in there was not right and correct."

Norman, who started at the AG's office in 2006 but was fired after a car insurance fraud claim was made against him in 2014 (and later dismissed), said that his role in Swanson's office was of a "recruiter."

He would encourage employees to staff Swanson's political events, and himself accompanied Swanson to many of the political events on her calendar.

To induce participation, he and other deputies would tell staffers that Swanson one day would run for governor, and then "just imagine where your career could go."

It's not illegal to for Minnesota government workers to assist with a boss' political campaign, but the law does bar politicians from compelling their staff to do political work.

With Norman going on the record with his experiences, it will heap pressure on Swanson, who is facing a tight race in next week's DFL primary from challengers Tim Walz and Erin Murphy.

Get the latest BMTN stories by following on Flipboard.

Speaking to MPR, Intercept reporter Rachel Cohen said she'd spoken to as many as 20 employees current and former in Swanson's office, many of whom corroborate the claims staffers were pressured to assist with campaign work. Most were afraid to speak out publicly however.

"D'Andre freely admits to a lot of things that make him look bad and put him in jeopardy," Cohen told the news organization, "in part because he felt guilt and wants to help fix things. His willingness to incriminate himself I think makes the story one that people need to take seriously."

On Wednesday, Swanson told reporters that Norman was a "low-level employee" whom she never asked for political help, the Associated Press reports.

She said any employees who helped her did it on their own time, calling the allegations "dirty politics."

The Swanson campaign provided the following response to the original Intercept story earlier this week.

Screen Shot 2018-08-07 at 2.45.24 PM

On Twitter Friday, Cohen responded to Swanson's comments.

Next Up

Related

Lori Swanson

Swanson, Accretive trade barbs over new documents

Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson released a new batch of patient affidavits Thursday on Accretive Health Inc. – including accounts by parents who said they were hounded for payment while their crying children waited for care – as she and the Chicago firm traded filings over the merit of her lawsuit. The firm first filed for dismissal in late April and said that the new documents are a rehash of "baseless allegations and mischaracterizations.''

Lori Swanson

Accretive Health CEO pokes back at Swanson, media

Without getting into specifics, Accretive Health's CEO suggested to an interviewer: "Do your own research on this attorney general and her approaches." The AG in question is Minnesota's Lori Swanson, who issued a report this week slamming Accretive's high-pressure tactics in collecting payments from hospital patients. The CEO says Accretive will weather the "current media blitz."

Accretive says it's addressing concerns raised in Swanson's report

Accretive Health says it's working with advisers on addressing the concerns about high-pressure tactics that Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson raised in her report last week. But the medical debt collection agency calls it a "flagrant distortion" to say the company solicited payments from patients in their hospital beds.

Mayor of Chicago weighs in on dispute between AG Swanson and Accretive

Rahm Emanuel, who was also chief of staff in the Obama Administration, has asked Minnesota's Attorney General Lori Swanson to "cease efforts to publicly prosecute this matter and rather try to resolve the matter privately." Swanson has accused the Chicago-based collection company of overly-aggressive practices to retrieve payments from patients. Emanuel also defended and praised Accretive Health.