Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison interview series: Part 2

Attorney General

Keith Ellison

On being elected Minnesota’s Attorney General:

Keith Ellison: As Attorney General, I don't write law anymore, but it'll be my job to enforce it. So, it's kind of interesting. I'm working on another side of the same issue. I helped pass the Affordable Care Act. Now as the Attorney General, I'm going to be defending the Affordable Care Act. I help write the law for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the CFPD. Now, I'm going to be enforcing consumer protection laws.

There are many other examples of that very same thing. As a lawyer, I'm getting back to my roots. When you met me, Al, I was a law student.

Now, I'm going back to the law business, and I'm excited about it. I always loved it. It was fun. I enjoyed practicing law. Before, I was just pure lawyer, then I became a politician. Now, I'm kind of both. The Attorney General is an elected office, but it's a legal job. So, I'll be doing both of those things.

Al McFarlane: As Attorney General, who do you report to? Is the governor your boss? Is the lieutenant governor your boss? Who's your boss? Who are you accountable to?

Keith Ellison: Al, you're my boss.

And the folks who work at KFAI are my boss. Everybody listening to this show is my boss. The governor is not my boss. I used to tell people ... Somebody one time said to me, "Well, you should tell your boss, Obama." I said, "Obama is not and never was my boss." As a matter of fact, the Congress and the presidency are coequal branches of government.

Nobody's a boss. If you wonder about whether the president is the boss of a member of Congress, ask yourself why we have a shutdown. Because the Congress said we're not giving you 5 billion for some hate wall. The President says, "I want 5 billion for my hate wall," and it didn't pass. So now, the governor and I are both Executive Branch officers, but I have my own independent election certificate. The people voted for me to do what I have to do. I won, he won. So, it's good that Tim Walls and I are good friends, and we'll be working on a very productive partnership.

Al McFarlane: How long was he in the Congress?

Keith Ellison: Same as me, man. He came in-

Al McFarlane: So, you guys have history?

Keith Ellison: Our lives are tracking parallel. He got in in 2006, so did I. Swore in 2007, just like me. Now, we're both going to be working in Minnesota state government at the very same time. It's fun. The good thing is he and I can talk. He and I have a relationship. We've agreed that we're going to have very regular meetings to make sure that we're coordinating our work for the benefit of the people of our state. That's going to be a benefit.

Peggy Flanagan's awesome. She used to be a Minneapolis School Board member. She's now the Lieutenant Governor, highest ranked Native-American woman in the United States. There has never been a Native woman as a statewide officer in any state. This is a big deal. Then I think there's a woman name Deborah Haalland who is Native American woman in Congress from New Mexico. I think she's the first. These are important developments. These things are happening right now and all over the place.

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