In a personal letter delivered to Entenza on Sunday, Mattson wrote, "I concur with the attorney general [Mike Hatch] and those Minnesotans who publicly question how you could serve as attorney general while the office is investigating $30.8 million in stock options granted to your wife [United Health executive Lois Quam]. It appears to be an unreconcilable conflict. You are seeking the wrong office at the wrong time, given your personal circumstances."
In a phone interview with City Pages Sunday night, Mattson said the specific reference to Entenza's wife was from a class action lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in St. Paul on July 7 by the California Public Employees Retirement System over the way United Health grants stock options. Quam is one of United Health executives specifically cited in the suit. Attorney General Hatch is investigating United's stock option plan but not Quam specifically. He has questioned how Entenza would be able to investigate United given his wife's prominent role in the corporation.
But Mattson said her decision to challenge Entenza was finalized as she saw the fallout from last week's news that Entenza had hired an outside firm to investigate Hatch back in February 2004. "The half truths and unsolvable explanations Entenza used to try and explain what he did are frustrating. On Friday night, I was watching the party chairs discuss the issue on [the local PBS public affairs program] Almanac and knew that the DFL needs another person in this primary or Entenza is going to take down this ticket," Mattson says. In her letter to Entenza, Mattson writes, "The public revelations about your paying a Chicago firm to secretly investigate your running mate, Mike Hatch [the DFL endorsee for Governor], and the less than candid way you have justified it, leaves us all in doubt as to the truth...The simple fact is that your irreconcilable conflict of interest and personal campaign conduct are now the dominant issues. Not only is your own election highly questionable, but you are endangering the entire DFL ticket."
Another former Minnesota Attorney General, Miles Lord, has agreed to become chair of the Minnesotans for Mattson campaign. Mattson describes Lord as "an old family friend and someone I consider as my mentor," and adds, "I know this is an arduous task. I don't have a campaign staff or fundraising efforts. I certainly don't have $30.8 million in stock options to use on this campaign. But I do have issues I think we need to talk about and one is that Matt Entenza is disqualified from being a public servant in this case, for this office.
"When you are a full-time lawyer, it is difficult to engage in a campaign. I will fulfill all my obligations to my clients and prioritize those over any other activity because that's what lawyers have to do. But I will also hold myself up as a person without conflict if Minnesotans would like me to be AG. I think it is necessary to give them that choice."
UPDATE: DFL PARTY CHAIR STATEMENT ON MATTSON FILING
ST. PAUL (7/17/06) -- Jennifer Mattson, a 29 year-old challenger to DFL-endorsed Attorney General candidate Matt Entenza filed for candidacy today. Minnesota DFL Chair Brian Melendez released the following statement:
"Jennifer Mattson has a history of challenging -- and losing to -- DFL-endorsed candidates for statewide office. She has nothing approximating the record and experience of Representative Entenza. She has been a lawyer for two and a half years, while Matt Entenza has been a prosecutor, a legislator, an assistant attorney general and the House Minority Leader."