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Lori Swanson

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Lori Swanson
Lori Swanson.jpg
Attorney General of Minnesota
In office
January 2, 2007 - Present
Term ends
January 2019
Years in position 8
PredecessorMike Hatch (D)
Base salary$113,859
Elections and appointments
Last electionNovember 4, 2014
First electedNovember 2006
Campaign $$1,176,843
Term limitsNone
Prior offices
Minnesota Solicitor General
2003 – 2006
Deputy Attorney General of Minnesota
1999 – 2002
Bachelor'sUniversity of Wisconsin-Madison
J.D.William Mitchell College of Law
Date of birthDecember 16, 1966
Office website
Campaign website
Lori Swanson (b. December 16, 1966) is the 29th and current Democratic Attorney General of Minnesota. She was sworn in as Minnesota's first ever woman state attorney general on January 2, 2007, after winning election on November 7, 2006.[1] Swanson is now in her second term, having been re-elected in 2010. In the last election, Swanson defeated solo primary challenger Leo F. Meyer by a landslide to secure the Democratic party's nomination, and faced three opponents in general election on November 2, 2010. She glided into her second term with 52.9 percent of the vote, beating the race's second-place finisher, Republican Chris Barden, by a margin of nearly 12 percentage points.

Swanson previously served under her predecessor Mike Hatch as Deputy Attorney General during his first term in office, from 1999 to 2002, and then as Solicitor General, from 2003 to 2006, during Hatch's second term.

Prior to assuming the role of Minnesota's chief law enforcement official, Swanson was appointed Chair of the Consumer Advocacy Council to the Federal Reserve Board of Governors based in Washington, D.C.

Attorneys general are not restricted by term limits in the state of Minnesota, therefore Swanson was eligible to seek re-election before her term expired in January 2015. Swanson won her third term as attorney general in the general election on November 4, 2014.[2]


Swanson earned her bachelor's degree from University of Wisconsin-Madison and later graduated magna cum laude from William Mitchell College of Law.

From 2003 to 2006, Swanson served as Solicitor General for the State of Minnesota. From 1999 to 2002, she served as Deputy Attorney General. Prior to that, Swanson was an attorney in private practice.[3]

She has received the Pro Patria Award (2009) from the Minnesota Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), and the Robert Drinan Champion of Justice Award (2009) from The National Consumer Law Center.


  • Bachelor's degree, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Juris Doctorate degree, William Mitchell College of Law (magna cum laude)

Political career

Minnesota Attorney General (2007-Present)

Swanson was elected Attorney General of Minnesota in 2006 and re-elected in 2010. She is Minnesota’s 29th Attorney General and its first female attorney general.[3]

Protecting Financial Aid for Students and Taxpayers Act

On March 11, 2013, Swanson, together with twelve other state attorneys general, sent a letter to Congress in support of the Protecting Financial Aid for Students and Taxpayers Act, a bill which would ban for-profit colleges from using federal funds for marketing and recruiting techniques.[4] Sponsored by Senators Kay R. Hagan (D-NC) and Tom Harkin (D-IA), who chairs the chamber's Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, the law aims to “ensure that scarce federal education dollars will be used to serve and educate students rather than to finance advertising campaigns, recruitment operations, and aggressive marketing.”[5] Consumer protection is one of the key duties assigned to the attorney general in each state.

According to the law's text, student enrollment at for-profit degree-issuing institutions such as the University of Phoenix more than doubled between 1998-2008, during which time the federal government--through student financial assistance programs--provided 86 percent of revenues to 15 reviewed publicly traded companies operating these for-profit colleges. A separate analysis of 15 such companies concluded that, on average, 28 percent of all expenditures were on advertising, marketing, and recruiting. Critics, including the attorneys general responsible for the letter advocating the bill's passage, contend that these expenditures are used to deceive consumers about program costs, graduation rates, or their employment potential beyond graduation. The bill seeks to restrict spending of this nature by higher education institutions or other postsecondary educational institution by prohibiting use of federal loans or grants in specific areas, and requiring that all such institutions whose revenues can be traced to federal educational assistance funds "report annually to the Secretary and to Congress the institution's expenditures on advertising, marketing, and recruiting."[4]

In the letter, the attorneys general urged, “Federal taxpayers should not be asked to foot the bill for aggressive recruiting and deceptive sales tactics of colleges that have placed profits ahead of ensuring student success.”[6] There are an estimated 3,000 for-profit schools nationwide, though neither the letter nor the bill cited the name of a specific institution.[7]

See also: Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now

Swanson was one of six state attorneys general, all of whom belonged to the Democratic Party, who received the highest rating, a letter grade of A+, from the June 2008 Survey and Scorecard report published by liberal political organization, ACORN. The report was published in an effort to shine the spotlight on state attorneys general "leading the fight to protect homeowners from joining the flood of Americans losing their homes to foreclosure," according to the group.[8]

The Minnesota Attorney General's office graciously accepted the organization's recognition, saying, “I am honored to have ACORN as an ally in this fight to protect our communities from the scourge of foreclosures, and deeply grateful for this recognition. I humbly share it with the scores of dedicated professionals in my office that go to work every day pursuing justice for the people of Minnesota.”[9]

Assistant firing
See also: American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees

In April 2007, Swanson's office was embroiled in controversy after the Minnesota Attorney General fired Kari Jo Ferguson, a ten-year veteran who just weeks earlier had received a commendation and a raise from the attorney general herself, after being caught distributing union cards within the state governmental office. Swanson gave several reasons for the firing, but Eliot Seide, executive director of AFSCME Council 5, sharply criticized the attorney general for creating a "climate of political patronage, fear, intimidation and humiliating working conditions,” believing the discharge to be a direct result of Ferguson unionizing her co-workers.[10]

Healthcare reform
See also: State Attorneys General Against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010

The day after the United States House of Representatives narrowly passed the Senate reconciliation bill on health care reform, Republican Governor of Minnesota Tim Pawlenty sent a letter to Attorney General Lori Swanson requesting her to "review the legal issues being raised by this unprecedented federal mandate and join other attorneys general to protect the constitutional rights of our citizens."[11]

That same day, Swanson, through her spokesman, seemed to rebuke the governor's inquiry noting that neither the House bill had been signed nor had the reconciliation proposal been passed by the United States Senate. Furthermore, she argued, her office was not willing "to make any legal comments until we have had the opportunity to review the 2,400-page bill."[11]

Even after President Barack Obama had signed the controversial House Resolution 3590 - The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into law on Tuesday, March 23, 2010, Swanson had not yet made a decision as to whether or not she would pursue litigation against the federal government over the matter. The Minnesota Attorney General, as a direct result of what some perceived to be delay tactics, faced increasing pressure from Republican members of State Legislature, including State Senator Julianne Ortman, who argued that "her political agenda has gotten in the way of her responsibilities to serve the residents of the state."[12]



See also: Minnesota attorney general election, 2014

Swanson ran for re-election as attorney general in 2014.[2] She was uncontested for the Democratic nomination in the August 12 primary. The general election took place November 4, 2014.


Attorney General of Minnesota, 2014
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngLori Swanson Incumbent 52.6% 1,014,714
     Republican Scott Newman 39% 752,543
     Legalize Marijuana Dan R. Vacek 3% 57,604
     Independence Brandan Borgos 2.3% 44,613
     Libertarian Mary O'Connor 1.6% 30,008
     Green Andy Dawkins 1.5% 28,748
     Nonpartisan Write-in votes 0% 750
Total Votes 1,928,980
Election Results via Minnesota Secretary of State.


See also: Minnesota Attorney General election, 2010
2010 Race for Attorney General - Democratic Primary[13]
Party Candidate Vote Percentage
     Democratic Party Approveda Lori Swanson 85.6%
     Democratic Party Leo F. Meyer 14.4%
Total Votes 397,317
2010 Race for Attorney General - General Election[14]
Party Candidate Vote Percentage
     Democratic Party Approveda Lori Swanson 52.9%
     Republican Party Chris Barden 41.3%
     Independent Bill Dahn 5.1%
     Resource Party David J. Hoch 0.7%
     Write-In 0.1%
Total Votes 2,033,087


2006 Race for Attorney General - Democratic Primary[15]
Party Candidate Vote Percentage
     Democratic Party Approveda Lori Swanson 41.8%
     Democratic Party Steve Kelley 37.3%
     Democratic Party Bill Luther 20.9%
Total Votes 300,387
2006 Race for Attorney General - General Election[16]
Party Candidate Vote Percentage
     Democratic Party Approveda Lori Swanson 53.2%
     Republican Party Jeff Johnson 40.7%
     Independent John James 4.1%
     Green Party Papa John Kolstad 1.9%
Total Votes 2,125,209

Campaign donors

Comprehensive donor information for Swanson is available dating back to 2006. Based on available campaign finance records, Swanson raised a total of $1,176,843 during that time period. This information was last updated on July 12, 2013.[17]

Lori Swanson's Campaign Contribution History
Year Office Result Contributions
2012 Attorney General of Minnesota Not up for election $94,003
2010 Attorney General of Minnesota Won $506,696
2008 Attorney General of Minnesota Not up for election $140,224
2006 Attorney General of Minnesota Won $435,920
Grand Total Raised $1,176,843

2006 and 2010

Ballotpedia collects information on campaign donors for each year in which a candidate or incumbent is running for election. The following table offers a breakdown of Lori Swanson's donors each year.[18] Click [show] for more information.


Swanson currently resides in Eagan, Minnesota with her husband, Gary.[3]

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Contact Information


Capitol Address:
Minnesota Attorney General's Office
1400 Bremer Tower
Saint Paul, MN 55101

Phone: (651) 296-3353
Toll Free Phone: (800) 657-3787
E-mail: attorney.general@state.mn.us

See also

External links

Suggest a link


  1. Minnesota Attorney General, "Lori Swanson" accessed October 19, 2012
  2. 2.0 2.1 Lori Swanson for Attorney General 2014 Official campaign website, "Homepage," accessed July 18, 2014
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Minnesota Attorney General, "Attorney General Biography" accessed October 19, 2012
  4. 4.0 4.1 The Library of Congress, "Bill Text 113th Congress (2013-2014) S.528.IS," March 12, 2013
  5. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named agsletter
  6. The Boston Globe, "Attorney generals to Congress: Don’t let for-profit colleges use federal grants and loans for advertising," March 17, 2013
  7. Commonwealth of Kentucky Office of the Attorney General, "Letter to Congress," March 11, 2013
  8. ACORN "Attorneys General Take Action: Real Leadership in Fighting Foreclosures" June 2008
  9. Truscott Files, "ACORN Press Release: Lori Swanson Gets A+ on Foreclosure Crisis" 11 June, 2008
  10. Minnesota Independent, "Time for Swanson to Come Clean or Quit" 7 May, 2007
  11. 11.0 11.1 Minnesota Post, "Gov. Pawlenty asks Attorney General Lori Swanson to review 'legal issues' of federal health-care reform" 22 March, 2010
  12. Minnesota Public Radio News, "Swanson in the spotlight over health care challenge" 24 March, 2010
  13. Minnesota Secretary of State - 2010 Attorney General Primary Election Results
  14. Minnesota Secretary of State - 2010 General Election Results
  15. Minnesota Secretary of State - 2006 Primary Election Results
  16. Minnesota Secretary of State - 2006 General Election Results
  17. Follow the Money, "Career fundraising for Lori Swason," accessed July 12, 2013
  18. Follow the Money.org, "Home," accessed February 17, 2015

Political offices
Preceded by
Mike Hatch (D)
Minnesota Attorney General
Succeeded by