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Minnesota Attorney General Swanson denies pressuring employees to work for campaign

Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson talks to the media in July of 2018. In August, a news website reported that some people in her office were pressured to help her campaign. Don Davis / Forum News Service

ST. PAUL—Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson denies allegations that an aide hired workers in her state office to do campaign work.

In a Minnesota Public Radio forum Friday, Aug.10, she said the online news organization that reported the issue is "widely discredited."

She said she has sued investors in the The Intercept website, adding: "When you do things like that you get a target on your back"

The back and forth on the issue has been going on since Monday, when The Intercept ran a story from unidentified sources saying that the Swanson attorney general's state office is used for campaign purposes. The website updated its story Thursday with an interview from a former Swanson aide.

Many people said D'Andre Norman pressed employees to work on campaigns, Rachel Cohen's story reported.

Cohen said Norman confirmed her earlier story, which included the allegation that campaign workers employed by the attorney general got pay raises.

State Rep.Sarah Anderson, R-Plymouth, said she is considering holding a committee hearing looking into the allegations.

Swanson is one of three leading Democratic governor candidates, and some polls have shown her in the lead.

Another Democratic candidate, U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, said on on the MPR forum that the allegations concern him.

Voters go to the polls Tuesday to decide who will represent the Democratic Party in the governor's race.

Norman, who worked for Swanson from 2006 to 2014, said he was to pressure workers into helping her politically. It is legal for a state employee to work for the boss, but it is illegal to pressure the worker to.

"D'Andre freely admits to a lot of things that make him look bad and put him in jeopardy," Cohen told MPR, "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."

Swanson's office said Norman never was authorized to pressure workers into helping Swanson politically.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.