Keith Ellison’s First Legislative Priority in the Attorney General’s Office Will Be to Ensure Nonpartisan Fairness in Office

Civil service reform will protect attorneys working for the Attorney General’s office from being fired or discriminated against based on political affiliation, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or other protected status

Doug Wardlow has promised to fire – and hire – attorneys in the office based solely on political affiliation and loyalty to his own extreme agenda

MINNESOTA – Congressman Keith Ellison today announced that his first legislative priority in the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office will be to call for civil service reform which will provide protection for attorneys in the office, to ensure they do not face discrimination based on political affiliation, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or other protected status.

“The way you serve in elected office begins with the way you run your office,” said Ellison. “Minnesotans need to know they have a clear choice for a People’s Lawyer who will represent all Minnesotans. While my opponent has promised to run his office on the basis of political party, I will fight for the rights of every Minnesotan, regardless of race, religion, gender, zip code, or political party.”

Recently, it was revealed that Republican Attorney General candidate Doug Wardlow planed to fire “42 Democratic attorneys right off the bat, and... get Republican attorneys in.” Ellison’s plan for civil service reform will help ensure that no matter who serves as Attorney General in the future, dedicated public servants working in the office will not have their employment status subjected to political purity tests.

“In order for our government to serve all people in our state, it is critical that we have a system in which elected officials and civil servants work collaboratively together,” said John Choi, Ramsey County Attorney. “Keith Ellison's proposal will take a big step forward in promoting a non-partisan workplace in which legal advice, decisions, and discretion are not driven by political agendas.”

In a radio interview this past June, Wardlow previewed his intention to politically purge the office, suggesting that because a number of attorneys in the office are “political appointees [he] can get rid of them for any reason.” Enacting civil service reform will ensure that Wardlow’s partisan purge cannot happen under any Attorney General, protecting attorneys from being fired for unfair reasons such as their political affiliation.

“I practiced public law for more than three decades with the state’s largest county. We hired the best attorneys we could find,” said Carla Hagen, former Public Defender, Prosecutor, and Senior Attorney with Hennepin County. “Political affiliation was irrelevant. What mattered was excellence and passion for public service and for justice. Doug Wardlow’s plan to purge the Attorney General’s office has nothing to do with protecting the people of Minnesota. We need an Attorney General like Keith Ellison, who is committed to delivering justice for all Minnesotans, regardless of political affiliation, race, religion, or zip code.”

Reforming civil service protections for lawyers in the Attorney General’s Office will not only prevent unfair firings; it will also help to recruit and retain the best possible attorneys to serve the public interest, by ensuring a fair and supportive working environment for all.

“Public law offices compete with private practices and companies to try to recruit the best and the brightest attorneys to serve the public interest,” said Sam Clark, former Saint Paul City Attorney. “Bringing in the best lawyers means providing the best working environment possible, including one where someone’s personal political beliefs are not a prerequisite for their job. Keith Ellison will defend the rights of all Minnesotans as Attorney General, which includes hiring the best attorneys regardless of their political beliefs.”

The Minnesota Attorney General is tasked with the important responsibility of ensuring the law is fairly enforced for all Minnesotans, regardless of political affiliation, race, religion, or zip code. The work of the office includes protecting seniors from scams and fraud; ensuring loan providers provide fair rates within the bounds of the law; and making medical billing more transparent and fair.

“As an attorney employed in a public law office, I would never want my personal beliefs, or those of my colleagues, to be used against me,” said State Representative Dave Pinto. “Doug Wardlow’s plans for the Attorney General’s Office are dangerous and unethical. I thank Keith Ellison for standing up for the integrity of the Office, for the dedicated public servants who work there, and for the public that we all serve."

The Attorney General is aided in their work by a team of dedicated public servants, which today includes more than 160 attorneys who work directly with Minnesota consumers and businesses, research important consumer protection issues, and pursue legal action when needed.