In a damning Monday press release, Republican candidate for Minnesota attorney general Doug Wardlow claimed that his opponent Keith Ellison is “not authorized to practice law” in the state.
According to the release, the State Office of Lawyer Registration reveals that Ellison surrendered his law license in 2012 and is no longer eligible to practice law in Minnesota.
“Keith Ellison has falsely said that Congress requires lawyers to surrender their licenses to practice law when they enter the U.S. House. According to the Clerk of the House, no professionals are required to surrender their licenses when they take the oath of office,” Wardlow’s campaign claims, noting that “this means Keith Ellison has intentionally skipped 180 hours of mandatory classes.”
The classes, which bring attorneys up-to-date on “legal ethics, changes in the law, and diversity training,” could takes “years” to make up, according to Wardlow.
“He may never be able to practice law in Minnesota again,” the press release states. If Ellison were to practice law in Minnesota as attorney general by “filing a criminal complaint or appearing in court,” he would actually be breaking a criminal law against the “Unauthorized Practice of Law,” Wardlow’s campaign argues.
“Every separate time Keith Ellison tried to commit Unauthorized Practice of Law, the local county attorney would be required under the law to file a criminal prosecution” against him, according to the press release, which also claims that directing “lawyers under him to draft prosecution documents or appear in court speaking in his name while he is still barred from legal practice” would also be a violation of criminal law.
Additionally, Wardlow claims that Ellison would be in violation of “several other criminal laws” if he were to direct “staff attorneys to do legal work in his name and pay their salaries for doing his work while” also accepting “his own government paycheck.”
“Keith Ellison is unlicensed, unauthorized, and unable to practice law in Minnesota,” the press release concludes.
While Ellison’s campaign has yet to directly address Wardlow’s claims, it did smear Wardlow in a Facebook post just an hour after the press release came out.
“Wardlow has proudly worked for an organization the Southern Poverty Law Center labeled an anti-LGBTQ ‘hate group,’ testified against allowing trans students to use the restroom of their choice, and called the United States Supreme Court’s decision legalizing marriage equality a ‘totalitarian impulse,’” Ellison’s campaign stated. “Doug Wardlow’s views on civil and human rights are as dangerous as it gets, and Minnesotans will soundly reject his hateful agenda this November.”