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Report: Lawyer who spoke out against AG Swanson put on leave

ST. PAUL (AP) - An assistant attorney general who spoke to reporters about turmoil in Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson's office has been put on administrative leave, the online publication reported Tuesday.

Amy Lawler was quoted in stories by MinnPost and Minnesota Public Radio about a drive by some lawyers in the office to form a union and the climate of retribution she said the effort had caused.

Lawler told MinnPost that a letter notifying her of the leave was delivered to her Minneapolis home on Monday night. Messages left by the Associated Press for Lawler and Swanson's spokesman weren't immediately returned Tuesday.

Lawler, a recent Harvard Law School graduate, has worked for the office since November. In the two Friday reports, she detailed the unionization movement in the office and efforts by Swanson's aides against it.

In the initial MinnPost article, she also raised ethical questions about the office's approach to filing lawsuits. She told the publication that many of the attorneys felt pressure to help Swanson get favorable publicity by tailoring lawsuits to particular consumer-protection issues that had been in the news.

According to Tuesday's article, the letter notifying her of her employment status change was signed by Deputy Attorney General Karen Olson. It said Lawler was wrong to discuss her concerns with the media and instead should have brought them to a board that investigates allegations of lawyer misconduct.

The unionization effort has been brewing for at least a year. Swanson has questioned whether lawyers in her office are eligible to form a union.

The terms of Lawler's leave and whether she would be paid during it were not available to MinnPost, whose account included no comment from Swanson or her aides.