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MANASSAS, Va., April 20, 2017 /Christian Newswire/ -- Mark Fitzgibbons, President of Corporate Affairs at American Target Advertising, America's largest and oldest conservative direct response agency, issued the following statement today following the refusal by the Office of Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson to answer Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA") requests about nepotism within her office, and the quantity of judgeless warrants called civil investigative demands (also known as administrative subpoenas) issued by her:
"The type of information that Ms. Swanson has refused to provide in response to my FOIA request should already be available to the general public, yet Ms. Swanson's office has now taken the position that it will require litigation to force transparency," said Fitzgibbons, who added, "Ms. Swanson's obstruction combines darkness, potential conflicts of interest, and danger to constitutional rights, making her unworthy of the unchecked, unilateral search and enforcement powers she wields. Giving Ms. Swanson these powers is like letting police write their own warrants to search people's private papers and emails protected by the Fourth Amendment, while currying political favors or satisfying ideological grudges in the process."
Among the various FOIA requests that Swanson's Assistant Attorney General Benjamin Velzen refused to answer in an April 14 denial of the FOIA requests submitted February 27 and supplemented on March 2 was:
How many attorneys or other staff in the Office of the Attorney General are related by blood or marriage to the Attorney General, any former Attorney General, any statewide public official in Minnesota, or any member of the Minnesota state legislature? Please provide their names, the names of the officials, and the nature of the relationship to the official.
Swanson employs Assistant Attorney General Elizabeth Kremenak, the daughter of Swanson's mentor, former Minnesota Attorney General and failed gubernatorial candidate Mike Hatch. It is not known to the public if she employs others who create conflicts of interest with her broad powers and obligation to be impartial.
Swanson's office also refused to respond to FOIA requests about how many civil investigative demands ("CIDs") it has issued since 2013 to businesses and nonprofit organizations, how many CIDs demanded the names of donors to nonprofit organizations (in violation of the 1958 landmark Supreme Court decision in NAACP v. Alabama), and what training its lawyers receive about protecting constitutional rights. Among its excuses, Swanson's office claims the information is subject to an "attorney-client privilege" and is "classified as not public data."
CIDs are searches for documents issued without probable cause presented under oath and affirmation before neutral judges or magistrates, and are increasingly being questioned as violations of the Fourth Amendment and the constitutional separation of powers. See David Kravets, "We Don't Need No Stinking Warrant: The Disturbing, Unchecked Rise of the Administrative Subpoena," Wired.com, August 28, 2012, www.wired.com/2012/08/administrative-subpoenas.
Swanson is part of the combination of liberal state attorneys general called the "Green 20" that collaborated to target and investigate entities with dissenting opinions about climate change causes and policies. She has been subpoenaed by a congressional committee for her involvement in this possibly illegal combination looking to stifle First Amendment rights. Last November a New York judge ordered disclosure of the "common interest" secrecy pact and emails between these attorneys general after a similar denial of a FOIA request was litigated.