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Hatch leaves attorney general's office

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ST. PAUL -- Former Attorney General Mike Hatch resigned from his replacement's staff today.

In a letter to Attorney General Lori Swanson, Hatch said he promised to serve while she was settling into office, but now "it is appropriate that I submit my resignation at this time." Hatch did not address a controversy swirling around Swanson, a controversy some blame on him.

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"I hope that with this resignation, the public will continue to focus on the good deeds that you are undertaking on behalf of ordinary citizens," Hatch wrote to Swanson.

In recent days, a leader of state government's largest union criticized Swanson after at least 30 employees have left the attorney general's office since January.

Swanson, the former solicitor general under Hatch, came under fire when a union representing state, county and municipal employees accused her of firing an assistant attorney who had expressed interest in trying to unionize the office.

The union had threatened to generate negative publicity if Swanson blocked union-organizing efforts in the office, she said.

Swanson, like Hatch a Democrat, released a statement today thanking Hatch for his public service.

"Mike Hatch was a fantastic attorney general and is one of the most talented, successful and hardworking lawyers I know," she said.

Hatch lost his bid to become governor last November. When Swanson took office, she asked Hatch to stay on as one of her attorneys.

"Your administration has been fantastic," Hatch wrote to Swanson in his resignation letter.

Hatch said just four women are attorneys general around the country.

"While I know you do not like to be described as a 'first,' you are an inspiration to women throughout the state," Hatch wrote to Swanson.

House Republicans have called for legislative hearings into Swanson's actions.

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