Those of you who listened to my February 14 podcast discussing the integrity and ethics of Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson will not be surprised that I am not surprised that the Associated Press has reported that the Minnesota legislative auditor will launch a preliminary investigation “into allegations of ethical and legal lapses” in Lori Swanson’s office.
There are a number of allegations of ethical lapses or abuse, but the heart of the investigation centers around allegations that Swanson and some of her top aides have pressured lawyers to give bad advice to state agency clients and to find defendants to fit lawsuits on high-profile topics.
It will be difficult for Swanson, a Democrat, to brush off this investigation as just so much political-hatchet work (with a bow to Mike Hatch, Lori Swanson’s predecessor, who perfected such activity) because the strongest call for the investigation of Swanson and her activities has come from state representative Steve Simon, who is also a Democrat.
Of course, these are as of now only allegations of ethical abuse and it may be that no proof of such activity will be uncovered, but based on my observations of Swanson’s style (as learned at the feet of her mentor Mike Hatch) it would not surprise me if the smoke led to fire.
You see, when politicians and business leaders adopt the age-old philosophy that “the end justifies the means,” it is not unusual to see ethical behavior offered as the first sacrifice on the “alter” of self-interest, advancement and personal publicity.
Lori Swanson may turn out to be just another in a long line of two-bit, hack politicians who check their ethics (if they had any in the first place) at the door when they seek to enter the world of personal power and aggrandizement.