Ellison at listening session

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison during a Jan. 3 listening session at the Minneapolis Urban League in North Minneapolis. 

Keith Ellison was sworn in today as Minnesota’s 30th Attorney General.

In brief inaugural remarks, Attorney General Ellison declared, “My job as the people’s lawyer is to help Minnesotans afford their lives and live with dignity and respect. The Minnesota Attorney General’s office will be the place where everybody counts and everybody matters.”

Ellison was the first of Minnesota’s five statewide constitutional officers to be sworn in at a ceremony that more than 1,000 people attended at St. Paul’s Fitzgerald Theater. He was surrounded by family members on stage as U.S. District Court Judge Michael Davis administered the oath of office. He is the first African-American and the first Muslim American to be elected to statewide office in Minnesota.

Inaugural remarks of Attorney General Keith Ellison

Let me tell you about Alex Smith. He worked hard as a restaurant manager. He had a dream of owning his own one day. He was loved by his family and friends.  

Last year, when Alex turned 26, he was kicked off his mom’s health insurance. He couldn’t afford insurance of his own on his salary of $35,000. His insulin alone cost him $1,300 a month.

Alex had to ration the insulin that was saving his life.

Alex died a month later. He couldn’t afford his life.

Alex wasn’t alone. The price of insulin has gone up 1200% in 20 years. This has enhanced the profits of the corporations that make it, and threatened the lives of the 1.25 million Americans who live with Type 1 diabetes — especially African Americans, Latinos and Latinas, and American Indians, all of whom live with far higher rates of it.

My job as the People’s Lawyer is to help Minnesotans like Alex afford their lives and live with dignity and respect.

In this time of the worst income inequality in America in a century, one of the last bastions of power for regular people is our democracy.

But the demands of profit over people are putting pressure on our democracy.

As the People’s Lawyer, the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office will be the place — as it has been from Walter Mondale to Lori Swanson — where we protect the rights of the people.

Minnesotans deserve an Attorney General’s Office where they can count on fair treatment and equal justice. And they won’t just come to us — we’ll go to them. There is no town or county too small or too far from the metro that my office won’t help.

The Minnesota Attorney General’s Office will be the place where everybody counts and everybody matters.

That’s what it looks like to help Minnesotans afford their lives and live with dignity and respect.

Protecting people before profit is hard work. Protecting our democracy is hard work.

What makes the work easy is this: Minnesotans already know how to help each other afford their lives and live with dignity and respect — because we do it every day. It’s who we are.

I want to thank Minnesotans for letting me serve as the People’s Lawyer. I want to thank my mother, Clida Ellison, and all my family and friends. I want to thank Mónica Hurtado for standing with me through thick and thin.

To all my fellow Minnesotans, no matter how you voted or even if you voted: You count. You matter. I am on your side.

Thank you. Let’s get to work.


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