October 21, 2010 - Our View/Endorsement: For Attorney General: Swanson, Fighter for Little Guys
October 21, 2010
(Duluth News Tribune)
-Duluth News Tribune
In a bad economy, the unscrupulous can turn downright nasty. Brokers who put people into unaffordable loans can turn around and sell ineffective “loan modifications.” Debt-management companies can charge up-front fees and then not perform the services promised. Utility companies can jack up rates even though homeowners’ incomes are flat or falling. And life insurance companies can defraud seniors of their life savings by selling policies that’ll never pay out.
Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson has seen a lot of bad behavior in her four years on the job and has made it her office’s mission to fight for everyday Minnesotans — the same Minnesotans who can re-elect her on Nov. 2.
“People come to us because they have problems. They need help. A lot of what we do is going to bat for Minnesotans,” Swanson said in an interview with the News Tribune editorial board. “It’s pretty hard for many to get justice on their own, primarily because of the cost. We can do things for people they can’t do on their own.
“We’re trying hard to stay ahead of these bad-economy scams,” said Swanson, who’s also the state of Minnesota’s legal representative. “We’ve tried hard to lay out a not-welcome sign in the state of Minnesota for companies that behave this way.”
Despite remaining perhaps too closely tied to former Attorney General Mike Hatch, Swanson is beginning to forge her own identity, which includes being tough on crime. Since being elected in 2006, she has worked with the Minnesota Legislature to enact tougher laws to fight sex abuse, ID theft and other wrongdoing.
Her frustration is in not being able to do more, in not being able to help all of the 800 Minnesotans who call her office daily. The attorney general’s budget is 20 percent smaller than 10 years ago, even though “The work is substantially up,” she said. “I try to focus on things that have meaningful impact,” she said. “It’s not something I’m going to whine about. Everyone has been cut.”
Few feel the pain as much as Minnesota’s little guys. But at least they have a fighter in their corner in Swanson.