Lori Swanson: Tested in the battles that matter.
Lori has led a distinguished career that reflects pride in Minnesota. No political bombast—just lots of results.
Lori represented her fellow Minnesotans as a state public official for nearly 20 years. She was elected Attorney General in 2006 and twice reelected by large margins. She made history by becoming the state’s first female Attorney General in 2006. Before that, Lori served as Solicitor General of the State of Minnesota for four years. Prior to that, she was appointed at age 32 to the position of Deputy Attorney General, one of the youngest people to hold the position.
Before entering public service, Lori was an attorney in private practice, where she represented patients who were denied coverage for lifesaving treatment by their health insurance companies. She represented women throughout the country and never lost one of these cases.
In 2004, Lori was appointed by Alan Greenspan to the Consumer Advisory Council of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors in Washington, D.C. Lori was elevated to Vice Chair of the Council in 2005. In 2006, Lori (a Democrat) was appointed by the conservative Federal Reserve Board as Chair of the Consumer Advisory Council.
“Better to fight for something than live for nothing.”
– Gen. George Patton
Lori has made a difference in the lives of people, earning national praise for her vigilance:
- “Health Leaders” magazine named Swanson one of 20 Americans who is making a difference in healthcare.
- The National Consumer Law Center awarded her the Robert Drinan “Champion of Justice” award for her consumer protection work.
- The Department of Defense awarded Lori the Pro Patria Award for her support of National Guard and Reserve members deployed to active duty.
- HBO’s Vice featured Lori’s efforts to stop abuses by for-profit colleges.
- The Wall Street Journal and National Public Radio featured Attorney General Swanson’s work in shutting down the largest consumer arbitration company in the world for running a rigged arbitration system. In the process, the largest collection agency and the largest collection law firm in the country were also shuttered.
- National Public Radio, the New York Times, CNN, and MSNBC highlighted Lori’s successful battle to ban from Minnesota a publicly-traded company—Accretive Health—for its harassment of patients in hospital emergency rooms. The terse exchange between Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Attorney General Swanson over her refusal to stop the investigation drew national attention on National Public Radio.
- NBC’s national program Dateline featured Attorney General Swanson when she obtained hundreds of millions in refund offers for senior citizens who were sold inappropriate investments by insurance companies.
- Lawyers USA named Swanson one of the top ten attorneys in America in 2009.
“Winning is a habit.”
– Knute Rockne
General Swanson was the highest vote-getter of any state constitutional officer each time she was on the ballot for Attorney General. In both 2010 and 2014, she was the only candidate for state constitutional office to receive more than one million votes, outperforming every other DFL state official. In 2014, she was the only constitutional officer to win 7 of 8 congressional districts, including all three of the rural congressional districts. She was reelected by over 13.5 points that year in a six-way contest.
“The impersonal hand of government can never replace the helping hand of a neighbor.”
– Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey
Lori believes that government officials should be accountable to the people and that they shouldn’t leave anything on the field when it comes to serving the public. She read every letter sent to her by her constituents. She ran an office with a sense of mission, that answered the phones, and wrote back to people. Lori instructs her staff that people who write to her office asking for help deserve to sleep better knowing that she and her staff take on these problems as their own.
“The highest compliment that you can pay me is to say that I work hard every day, that I never dog it.”
– Wayne Gretzky
Lori on North Shore, 1977
Lori learned her work ethic from her parents, who grew up during the Depression. Lori was raised near Milwaukee, the daughter of an engineer and a homemaker. Lori spent time every summer visiting her grandmothers in Duluth, where she fell in love with the North Shore of Lake Superior. Her father, who was raised in Duluth and served in the Minnesota National Guard, put himself through college by working manual jobs. Her mother was raised near Orr—60 miles from the Canadian border—in a small house that had no indoor plumbing or electricity. Lori is the fifth generation in her family to live in Minnesota. Like many immigrants, her great grandparents and great, great grandparents came to Minnesota in the 1800s in search of opportunity and the promise of a better life for their children. One pair of great, great grandparents came from Ireland and became early farmer settlers near Wabasha in Southeastern Minnesota in the 1850s. Another pair of great grandparents immigrated to Minnesota from Norway and Sweden in the 1800s, farming near Oklee in Northwestern Minnesota. Her other side of the family made a living farming, logging, and working on the railroads near Orr.
Lori always had high expectations. As a child, she glued herself to the family’s television set, learning about the work of Woodward and Bernstein and determined to become an investigative reporter. In junior high, she rode her bike five miles round-trip to volunteer at a nursing home, where she read to elderly patients. In high school, she won a competition for newspaper reporting, writing stories about underage drinking and school desegregation. As soon as she was old enough, Lori got a job working in a dry cleaner to save money for college.
Lori attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she graduated with distinction, majoring in journalism. The UW-Madison School of Journalism recognized Lori with its Distinguished Service Award in 2014. Lori worked three jobs in college to help pay the bills: at a telephone answering service, where she took nighttime and weekend emergency calls from farmers to veterinarians; at a dairy industry trade association, where she researched and wrote articles about the agricultural industry; and a stint in a General Motors factory, where as a member of the UAW she saw the dignity that high-paying manufacturing jobs bring to families.
“Work like you don’t need the money. Love like you have never been hurt. Dance like nobody’s watching.”
– Satchel Paige
Lori married her college sweetheart, Gary, whose father was raised in Polk County in Northwestern Minnesota. Lori and Gary have been married for almost 30 years. After college, Lori and Gary moved to Minnesota, where they continued their educations. Gary attended graduate school at the University of Minnesota. Lori put herself through law school at William Mitchell College of Law, working full-time during the day and attending school at night. She graduated magna cum laude at the top of her class. Lori and Gary live in Eagan, always with a golden retriever as part of their home. Their current golden retriever, Taffy, was born on Leap Year Day.
For fun, Lori likes to take long bike rides on Minnesota’s converted railroad trails. She loves to hike with Gary and Taffy along the North Shore of Lake Superior. She is a disciplined cross trainer and enjoys reading good books, especially about U.S. and Presidential history, baking, trapshooting, jazz music, and letting her dog take her for regular morning walks.