Lori's Record

Lori Swanson:  She Gets Results That Touch Lives.

You can tell what a leader will do in the future by looking at what they did in the past. 

Some leaders can give a good speech, but don’t do very much.  Others make promises, but it’s just empty rhetoric.

Attorney General Swanson has a proven track record of results that have gained national recognition from the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, CNN, Reuters, Bloomberg, NBC National News, National Public Radio, MSNBC, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and many others for improving the lives of millions of Minnesotans.

In short, she is the "People's Attorney General."

Read more about Lori's accomplishments for the people of Minnesota below.

 

(Select the categories below to learn more.)

  • Standing Up For All Minnesotans

    “The true test of a character is to face hard conditions with the determination to make them better.”  
    -  Helen Keller

    Attorney General Swanson gets results which make a difference in the lives of people.  She has been doing it for nearly 20 years in the Attorney General’s Office.  Take a look:

    • Attorney General Swanson lead a year-long investigation spanning all 50 states which proved that the country’s largest consumer arbitration company—National Arbitration Forum—operated a rigged arbitration scheme against the consumer. She filed a lawsuit that shuttered its consumer arbitration business.   In the process, the nation’s largest collection agency also closed.  The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, USA Today, and National Public Radio all recognized Attorney General Swanson’s leadership in reforming the system. 

    The National Consumer Law Center awarded her the Robert Drinan “Champion of Justice” award for this work, saying: “Attorney General Swanson has been a tireless champion of consumers in America, whether leading the charge against predatory mortgage lending, protecting seniors from marketing abuses, or defending our basic American right to have credit card disputes resolved impartially and not through a stacked deck.” 

    A newspaper wrote: “Consumers using credit cards, cell phones and other forms of credit—meaning most Minnesotans—got a major victory” through her investigation.  The national publication Lawyers USA named Lori one of the top 10 attorneys in America in 2009, saying: “She toppled the dominant player in debt arbitration in the country and changed the face of consumer credit card arbitration overnight.” 

    • Attorney General Swanson uncovered a system of abuses with “zombie debt” where hedge-fund owned companies pass around worthless and outdated credit paper and hire collection agents that pursue people for money they don’t owe.  She successfully overturned thousands of illicit court judgments and negative credit reports.

    The Park Rapids Enterprise said: “Cheers to Attorney General Lori Swanson for making Minnesota the first state in the nation to tackle the pernicious problem of debt collectors hounding people for old, forgotten debt.”  Attorney General Swanson then persuaded the state legislature to require debt buyers to present evidence that they are pursuing the correct person for the correct amount.

    • After being sworn into office, Attorney General Swanson sounded the alarm on the housing crisis, forming a work group of consumers, industry officials, and policymakers to craft reforms to prohibit mortgage lending abuses.  The Drum Major Institute of New York—a think tank inspired by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King—called the law that Attorney General Swanson got enacted one of the ten most important public priorities in America. 

    The New York Times said: “An excellent example of how to strengthen protections for borrowers is a 2007 Minnesota law that forbids some of the predatorymortgages that became common during the boom,” such as negative amortization loans, loan churning, prepayment penalties, and collusion between brokers and lenders.

    • Attorney General Swanson intervened in a slew of cases in which power companies sought to raise rates or dupe people with dubious billing programs.  These cases helped to save ratepayers over $1.5 billion. One newspaper commended “the attorney general’s bulldog effort.” 
    • Attorney General Swanson drafted numerous nation-leading laws that, when enacted, gave protections to consumers, including laws that restricted:

    - Online payday lenders that charged exorbitant rates of interest.

    - Mortgage foreclosure assistance companies that tricked homeowners into charging high fees but did nothing to help.

    - Debt settlement companies that tricked cash-strapped borrowers to pay thousands of dollars for phony help with credit card bills.

    - Companies that sent people “refund checks” which, when cashed, unwittingly signed people up for unwanted services. 

    • Attorney General Swanson won concessions from cell phone, cable, and internet companies for charging more than their quoted prices and imposing undisclosed early termination penalties.
    • She sued to ban companies that crammed unauthorized charges onto telephone bills.
    • She shut down and recovered millions of dollars for borrowers from payday lenders that trap cash-strapped people in a spiral of debt with astronomical interest rates.
    • She stopped credit card companies from imposing unauthorized charges.
    • Attorney General Swanson forced national mortgage companies to reform their lending practices and return over $40 million to homeowners who had their homes foreclosed, more returned to borrowers per capita than any other state.  She went after over  dozen mortgage foreclosure consultants that exploited vulnerable homeowners during the housing crisis.
  • Championing Our Senior Citizens
    “Aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength.”
    - Betty Friedan

    With prescription drug costs soaring, retirement plans becoming a thing of the past, and the cost of living spiking, many senior citizens live on tight incomes.  Bad guys want to drain their retirement savings.  Attorney General Swanson has been a tireless champion for our seniors. 

    • Through a series of complex lawsuits and settlements with five different insurance companies, Attorney General Swanson obtained industry-wide reforms and hundreds of millions of dollars in refund offers for senior citizens who were sold inappropriate investments by life insurance companies.  Dateline heralded Lori’s success

    When Attorney General Swanson later testified against these practices in the United States Congress, there were over 50 insurance lobbyists in the gallery—but no room for consumer representatives. This happens way too much in Washington D.C.  Unfortunately, the overflow of the swamp is beginning to seep into the State Capitol in St. Paul too.

    • Attorney General Swanson has sued or obtained settlements in over 100 pharmaceutical cases, recovering nearly $100 million for taxpayers and patients. 
    • Attorney General Swanson has pending in court a series of major lawsuits against generic drug companies for conspiring to fix the prices of medications to treat common ailments like high blood pressure, asthma, arthritis, diabetes, and glaucoma.
    • She has proposed that the Minnesota Legislature allow patients to tap into the state’s purchasing power to obtain discounts of 50-80 percent on their medications—something done in the states of Oregon and Washington.
    • She shut down living trust mills that tricked elderly individuals looking for financial peace of mind into paying thousands of dollars for unnecessary or improperly-prepared estate plans.
    • After companies robbed senior citizens of their life savings with phony coin sales, Attorney General Swanson convinced the Minnesota Legislature to enact legislation to ban these practices.  One newspaper noted that lawmakers had ample evidence that action is needed due to “aggressive lawsuits filed by Swanson against unsavory operators.”
    • Attorney General Swanson persuaded the legislature to strengthen the frequency and intensity of background checks for court-appointed guardians and conservators.
    • She drafted legislation to expand the protections available to senior citizens who purchase reverse mortgages.
    • Attorney General Swanson teamed up with AARP to fight the deregulation of landline telephone service.           
    • She repeatedly took to task firms that committed financial fraud against the elderly by deceptively selling financial products, security alarms, magazines, car warranties, and bogus health plans.
  • Protecting Minnesota's Economy
    “Now I have the possibly old-fashioned theory that when you have problems to solve, when you have objectives to achieve, you cannot get very far by just talking about them.” 
    - Franklin Delano Roosevelt

    Jobs bring dignity to families.  American workers are more productive than ever before but are paid lower wages.  With student loan debt, child care, and housing costs soaring, many people struggle to get by, let alone to get ahead.  Attorney General Swanson has written extensively on the need to strengthen the economy and grow high-paying jobs.

    • Attorney General Swanson received statewide recognition for shining a spotlight on the efforts of an out-of-state company to take over the University of Minnesota-Hospital, which would have cost Minnesota thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in lost charitable revenue.  After she called public hearings to scrutinize the acquisition, the transaction was dropped, helping to ensure that the University of Minnesota Medical Center and the related 40,000 private sector technology jobs continue to incubate jobs in Minnesota.
    • She received national praise from business leaders for being one of the first government officials in the country to crack down on patent-trolling, a practice which bleeds over $20 billion from the economy and squanders job-producing assets on time-consuming and expensive litigation.
    • She mediated disagreements between health insurance companies and rural critical access hospitals, which are often the largest employer in a community.
    • When Blue Cross Blue Shield and Children’s Hospitals couldn’t agree on a contract, she called up the two CEOs and brought them together to facilitate a resolution to bring peace of mind to 60,000 Minnesota families. 
  • Putting the 'Care' in Health Care

    “America's health care system is neither healthy, caring, nor a system.” 
    – Walter Cronkite                                                                                 

    Health care costs are out-of-sight, and many patients are squeezed by a system that seems more focused on greed than patients.  As a young lawyer, Lori got her start battling insurance companies on behalf of patients in need of lifesaving coverage.  She will never forget the ordeal these patients faced—the devastation of a critical illness and the arrogant indifference of large insurance companies.

    In 2012, the national publication "Health Leaders" magazine recognized Attorney General Swanson as one of 20 Americans who is making a difference in healthcare. 

    • Accretive Health—owned by a New York hedge fund—imbedded bill collectors in Minnesota hospital emergency rooms to shake down patients for money in times of distress.  Attorney General Swanson intervened with hard-fought litigation that eventually banned the company from doing business in Minnesota—the first time a Wall Street company is believed to have been thrown out of a state.  The New York Times, CNN, and MSNBC all recognized Lori’s successful battle to halt these aggressive practices. 
    • Attorney General Swanson negotiated a statewide agreement with every Minnesota hospital—the only agreement of its kind in the country—to stop hospitals from charging uninsured patients up to four times more than they charge to insurance companies. 
    • Attorney General Swanson stopped hospitals from charging exorbitant interest on unpaid medical bills and got over $1 million in unlawful interest returned to patients.
    • She stopped medical clinics from peddling health care credit cards that deceptively spiked their interest rates.
    • After the Minnesota Legislature voted to allow for-profit HMOs to do business in Minnesota in 2017, Attorney General Swanson pushed the legislature to enact legislation to protect the $7 billion in assets held by the state’s nonprofit health plans.  The Star Tribune praised Lori’s efforts: “As Swanson points out, there’s troubling precedent for loosely regulated nonprofit insurer conversions that yield big executive payouts or transfer assets to new ownership without recognizing the taxpayers’ financial interests.”
    • She shut down numerous health discount companies that sold policies riddled with loopholes that provided illusory coverage.
    • Attorney General Swanson went to court to challenge the termination of over $100 million in payments by the federal government to lower MinnesotaCare premiums.
    • She persuaded insurance companies to stop imposing restrictions that hampered patients’ access to medication to treat opioid withdrawal.
  • Easing the Load for College Students

    Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” 
    - Nelson Mandela

    In the past, each generation of Americans created a better standard of living for the next generation.  We need to correct our course so that ours is not the first generation that neglects to do this.  It’s not easy to be a young person today.  Lori gets it.  The cost of college has gone up 1,000 percent in 30 years.  Over 44 million Americans owe almost $1.5 billion in student loans. 

    Minnesota has the fifth highest student loan debt in the country.  College cost just $600 a semester when Lori started at a public university.  Not so today.  She wants young people to have the same opportunities she did to get ahead through education.

    • Commentators cited Attorney General Swanson as the first Attorney General in the country to take a for-profit college to trial for ripping off students with overblown promises to sell expensive degrees.  HBO’s Vice, a national program, recognized her work in this area.  Her lawsuit against Globe University resulted in a court ruling that the school defrauded hundreds of students with degrees that $70,000 each but did not qualify students to work in their chosen field.
    • Her settlement with another for-profit college got money back for students who were sold unaccredited medical assistance degrees costing $30,000 that did not even qualify them to work as medical assistants.  The Star Tribune commended her leadership in taking wayward for-profit colleges to task: “That kind of determination to hold such institutions accountable is needed and should continue at both the state and federal levels.”
    • Attorney General Swanson helped secure passage of a Minnesota GI Bill to provide tuition assistance to veterans and their families to augment the federal GI Bill.
    • Attorney General Swanson went to court to stop companies from defrauding students facing mountains of student loan debt with phony promises they would reduce the debt.
    • She proposed legislative reforms to make student loan servicing companies play fair with students and follow a “bill of rights” that would require them to work with borrowers in delinquency and end financial gimmicks that punish students (like crediting extra payments to the loan with the lowest interest rate so the higher cost loan can keep racking up interest).  Unfortunately, industry lobbyists helped kill the bill—something that happens way too much at the State Capitol.
    • She filed lawsuits against Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos for abandoning federal rules aimed to get college students degrees that will lead to gainful employment and to protect taxpayers from picking up the cost of fraud by for-profit colleges.
  • Fighting for Those We Send to Fight

    “The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive the veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their nation.” 
    - Gen. George Washington

    Attorney General Swanson learned respect for the military at an early age from her dad, who served as a ballistics specialist in the Minnesota National Guard.  She honors and respects the service and sacrifice of our veterans and service members.  The U.S. Department of Defense recognized her with the Pro Patria award for her advocacy on behalf of armed service personnel. 

    • Attorney General Swanson successfully advocated for new laws to make it easier for veterans to cancel contracts with cell phone providers, cable companies, and other companies when called up for service and to require utilities to work with families of service members to keep the heat on when a loved one is deployed.   The Red Wing Republican Eagle said: “Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson got it right when she said, ‘We owe our veterans, our service members, a great debt of gratitude.’”
    • She shut down companies that used deceit and trickery to solicit charitable contributions in the name of helping veterans.
    • She brought relief for veterans against for-profit college corporations that took their GI Bill benefits with false promises of degrees that would get them jobs.
    • She filed suit to enjoin a lender from getting veterans and their widows to sign over their monthly military benefits for years to come and pay exorbitant interest rates in exchange for small loans to help with family emergencies. 
  • Safeguarding our Families
    “If we don’t stand up for children, then we don’t stand for much.”
    - Marion Wright Edelman

    Families nurture and inspire our next generation.  But they can’t prosper unless they’re secure.

    • Her 2016 public report on legislative recommendations to combat the opioid epidemic among young people won national acclaim from the Conference of State Legislatures as one of the best state government reports in the country.
    • She successfully pushed for new laws to protect children from online sexual predators by banning them from social media sites that allow minors; authorizing unannounced searches of computers of offenders; and criminalizing the delivery of sexually graphic communications to children.
    • Attorney General Swanson shut down an adoption agency that took thousands of dollars from parents desperate to adopt children, only to fail to arrange the adoptions.
    • Attorney General Swanson was an early advocate to recognize the destructive impact of cyberbullying of children, pushing for legislation ten years ago to curb the practice.  She also called for legislation to curb bullying of kids in schools and to bolster Minnesota’s law, which had been one of the least protective in the country.  The Owatonna People’s Press hailed Lori’s efforts: “Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson called on the Minnesota Legislature to enact a bill that would address bullying…. Setting a strong tone and building a culture against bullying is important.”
    • She helped to shepherd into law protections to make the repeat violation of a domestic abuse no contact order a felony and to allow courts to prohibit domestic abusers from coming around a victim’s dwelling.
    • She went to court to protect the rights of mobile home park owners whose children would be displaced and uprooted from local schools if their park closed.
    • After hospitals ignored a Minnesota law that says that rape victims can’t be charged for exams, Attorney General Swanson intervened to halt the practice and get refunds to patients.
    • Her report on synthetic drugs and her recommendations for legislative reforms led to new laws to protect young people from the dangers of synthetic drugs.
    • She asked Congress and the courts to overturn laws that give legal immunity to websites that trade in sex trafficking of children and women.
  • Defending Individual Rights
    “We all require and want respect, man or woman, black or white.  It’s our basic human right.” 
    - Aretha Franklin
    The Constitution safeguards the individual freedoms and liberties of every American.  Attorney General Swanson supports the right of Minnesotans to make their own individual decisions about how to live their lives.
    • If the Constitution means anything, it means that “we the people” have the ultimate power through the ballot box.  But today, big money spending threatens to drown out the voices of regular voters.  To that end, Attorney General Swanson filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the original Citizens United case asking the Supreme Court not to permit corporate contributions in elections.  Unfortunately, since the ruling, big money has flooded our elections more than ever before.  Attorney General Swanson also went to court to uphold the requirement in state campaign finance laws that the names of donors to political campaigns be disclosed.  She filed amicus briefs against gerrymandered redistricting in a lawsuit from Wisconsin and in favor of setting legislative districts based on “one person, one vote.”
    • She asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Baker v. Nelson, a Minnesota Supreme Court decision that upheld prohibitions against same sex marriage.  She also filed several briefs in support of laws to prohibit discrimination against LGBTQ Americans.
    • She was one of two Attorneys General who filed a successful brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in support of disabled children’s rights to bring service dogs to schools.
    • She supported the Second Amendment rights of Minnesotans to hunt and own firearms.
    • She repeatedly asked the courts not to roll back benefits under the federal health care law for women’s contraceptive coverage.
  • Checking Federal Overreach

    “The greatest danger to American freedom is a government that ignores the Constitution.” 
    - Thomas Jefferson

    Attorney General Swanson respects the separation of powers between the various levels and branches of government.  The framers of our state and federal constitutions set up a system of checks and balances and divided government in which one branch or level can put the brakes on another if it overreaches. Attorney General Swanson has served as a check on encroachments by the federal government. 

    • She was one of two Attorneys General who stopped the January 2017 travel ban that was haphazardly rolled out, not properly vetted, and created needless chaos for children, families, students, physicians, businesses and travelers. 
    • She filed litigation to challenge the termination of federal health care subsidy payments to states.  The Star Tribune applauded Swanson’s work: “Attorney General Lori Swanson merits praise for her decision to intervene legally with other states to protect CSR [federal subsidy] payments.” 
    • She sued the President for pulling the rug out on DACA, a five-year old promise that 800,000 young Dreamers (97 percent of whom are in school or in the workforce) relied on to make important decisions about their lives, including to get an education, buy homes, start families, get married, or join the military. 
    • She petitioned U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos not to renege on treating campus sexual harassment and violence as sex discrimination under federal law.  
  • Protecting Farmers and Agriculture
    “God said, 'I need somebody willing to get up before dawn, milk cows, work all day in the fields, milk cows again, eat supper, then go to town and stay past midnight at a meeting of the school board.'  So God made a farmer.” 
    - Paul Harvey

    Agriculture is vitally important to Minnesota’s economy, and our farmers put food on our tables.  Attorney General Swanson doesn’t forget that her family’s roots - like those of many Minnesotans -started with farming.

    • When a wind energy development company sold turbines costing hundreds of thousands of dollars to farmers that didn’t work or weren’t delivered, Attorney General Swanson stepped in to shut it down.
    • When a propane company gouged rural Minnesotans with high home heating fuel costs based on deceitful contracts, she intervened and got the company to reform its practices.
    • Attorney General Swanson was the leader among states in a lawsuit that successfully blocked the national merger of the nation’s two largest food distribution companies. 
    • She went to court to defend the laws that prohibit corporate farming.
  • Bringing Stewardship to Our Natural Resources
    "The nation behaves well if it treats the natural resources as assets which it must turn over to the next generation increased; and not impaired in value."
    – Teddy Roosevelt

    Minnesotans value clean water and clean air.  We owe it to our children to protect the climate and our natural resources.

    • Attorney General Swanson repeatedly went to court to defend the state’s rights and the federal government’s responsibility to protect Lake Superior from destructive invasive species that threaten tourism, fishing, and the water and to stop the introduction of Asian Carp into the Great Lakes.
    • She filed a successful lawsuit against the EPA to require it to regulate greenhouse gas emissions as air pollutants under the Clean Air Act.
    • She sued the federal government to stop it from rolling back toxic pollution laws put in place during the Reagan Administration in a lawsuit that helped convince the Congress to reinstate the toxic release inventory law.
    • Her office represented the State of Minnesota in numerous legal actions to defend the Clean Power Plan, whose aim is to reduce climate change by putting limits on carbon-dioxide emissions.  The Star Tribune wrote: “Minnesotans should be pleased that state Attorney General Lori Swanson has joined attorneys general in 17 other states to defend the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan against those attempting to block limits on carbon pollution.” 
    • She intervened in litigation to successfully require the federal government to respect states’ rights to pass tougher vehicle emission standards.
    • Her brief helped to persuade the U.S. Supreme Court to find that the federal environmental clean-up law (CERCLA) allows a right of financial recovery for cleanup of environmental contamination.
    • She stopped a large corporate feedlot from violating state air and water quality standards and recovered millions of dollars from a car manufacturer for tampering with emissions equipment.
    • Her petition challenging the EPA’s delay of ozone designations helped to prompt the EPA to withdraw the delay request.
  • Standing with the 'L' in D-F-L
    “The labor movement was the principal force that transformed misery and despair into hope and progress.  Out of its bold struggles, economic and social reform gave birth to unemployment insurance, old age pensions, government relief for the destitute and, above all, new wage levels that meant not mere survival, but a tolerable life.”
    - Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

    For a brief stint in college, Lori worked in a GM factory and was a member of the UAW.  She saw the dignity that good jobs bring to families.  As Attorney General, Lori has been a steadfast friend of working men and women.  She received the Public Official of the Year Award from the Minnesota Nurses Association in 2010.  SEIU Healthcare recognized Swanson with the Betty Bednarczyk Courage Award in 2013, which is awarded to individuals who “with integrity and some personal risk, take a public stance to advance truth and justice, and who challenge prevailing conditions in pursuit of the common good.”  She received a special citation as an Honorary Firefighter in 2015 from St. Paul Firefighters Local 21 for defending the benefits owed to our firefighters.

    • Attorney General Swanson filed numerous legal briefs in the U.S. Supreme Court to support the right of workers to collectively bargain.
    • She successfully defended Minnesota’s prevailing wage laws against constitutional attack.
    • She supported efforts to enact Minnesota’s responsible contractor law and has filed petitions to improve state laws to crack down on employers that misclassify workers.
  • Putting Minnesota First
    “Well Behaved Women Rarely Make History.”
    - Eleanor Roosevelt

    People deserve a government that works hard for them.  The general fund appropriation to Attorney General Swanson’s office is down 50 percent (adjusted for inflation) from 15 years ago, but her office delivers more “bang for the buck” than ever before, with caseloads double from 20 years ago.

    • During the 2011 budget stalemate, Attorney General Swanson went to court and secured judicial orders to keep the essential services of state government functioning during the impasse between the legislature and governor.
    • Attorney General Swanson has testified for Minnesota in the United States Congress on numerous occasions on issues ranging from protection of our seniors, health care, telecommunications, and the financial industry and has worked with the Minnesota Legislature on a bipartisan basis to get new laws enacted to protect the rights of Minnesota citizens.
    • Minnesota is blessed with some of the most generous donors and vibrant nonprofit sector in the country.  Attorney General Swanson has earned national recognition for her work to make sure that charitable assets donated by Minnesotans serve a charitable mission.  She got reforms from the nation’s largest for-profit thrift store chain, Savers, after her year-long investigation uncovered that it was only giving cents on the dollar to charities.  Her work was recognized around the world, from NBC National News to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
  • Blazing a Trail
    “The door might not be opened to a woman again for a long, long time, and I had a kind of duty to other women to walk in and sit down on the chair that was offered, and so establish the right of others long hence and far distant in geography....”
    - Francis Perkins

    Attorney General Swanson believes that Minnesota succeeds when everyone gets a fair shot and plays by the same rules.  That we do best when we grow from the middle out, not the top down.  And that our children should be able to dream bigger, aim higher, and do better than their parents.  The work she has done as Attorney General reflects these values. 

    Like most people, Lori’s ancestors left countries where the privileged were few and the underprivileged many.  They came to Minnesota for the opportunity to work hard, make a decent living, and climb the economic ladder as high as their talents and work ethic could take them.  But today, our backbone, the middle class, has been shrinking.  The cost of higher education is rising above the reach of students.  The cost of healthcare and pharmaceuticals are spiraling at a sickening rate.  The cost of housing and child care are skyrocketing beyond the hopes of young families. And wages have not kept pace with inflation.  As a result, too many people feel that their place in the middle class is sliding. 

    Simply put, Attorney General Swanson’s achievements have helped to provide balance in the economy and make a more level playing field for all Minnesotans. 

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