Keith Ellison’s inactive law license makes him “not authorized to practice law” in Minnesota, according to his opponent Doug Wardlow.
Wardlow, a constitutional lawyer, believes Ellison’s inactive law license would present legal challenges to performing the job of attorney general of Minnesota.
In 2012, Ellison surrendered his license to practice law, claiming it was a requirement of any lawyer entering the U.S. House of Representatives. However, according to the House Ethics Manual, sitting legislators are allowed to retain their law license and can practice law as long as they do so without compensation.
“He publicly lied when he said members of Congress have to surrender their law licenses,” Wardlow wrote on Twitter.
.@keithellison is unauthorized to practice law in MN. He publicly lied when he said members of Congress have to surrender their law licenses. @EllisonCampaign is unlicensed, unauthorized, and unable to practice law in MN. RT to spread the word. #StopEllison pic.twitter.com/Ui1pPejonr
— Doug Wardlow (@doug_wardlow) August 27, 2018
Minnesota state law does not require a candidate for attorney general to hold an active law license, but Wardlow believes it is necessary to legally fulfill the roles of the office. On Monday, Wardlow’s campaign outlined 10 reasons why Ellison’s inactive law license would be “problematic” for Minnesota.
Wardlow says if Ellison were to file a criminal complaint or appear in court as attorney general, he would be breaking the criminal law against “unauthorized practice of law.” According to Chapter 481.02(1) of the Minnesota Statutes, it is a crime for any unlicensed individual to “appear as an attorney or counselor at law in any action or proceeding in any court in this state” or provide any services of a lawyer.
State laws would also prohibit Ellison from directing a staff attorney or outside counsel to perform legal services in his name.
Reactivating his license would take Ellison a considerable amount of time, Wardlow explains. Since surrendering his license, Ellison has skipped 180 hours of mandatory “continuing legal education.” According to the Minnesota Office of Lawyer Registration, Ellison would have to take all missed continuing legal education courses as well as pay back any fees.
Wardlow says it could take years for Ellison to make-up all the classes he missed.
“It could take Keith Ellison years to take all the make-up classes he would need to get his law license back,” Wardlow’s campaign said in a statement. “He may never be able to practice law in Minnesota again.”
“Keith Ellison is unlicensed, unauthorized, and unable to practice law in Minnesota,” Wardlow said.
Alpha News reached out to Ellison’s campaign for comment, but did not receive a response prior to publication.