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Letter: Keith Ellison says he will be the Peoples Lawyer

Yesterday, I was officially sworn in as Minnesota Attorney General.

I'm beyond grateful for the opportunity to serve you as the People's Lawyer, and I'm more than ready to get to work to help Minnesotans afford their lives and live with dignity.

As we start this new chapter together, I wanted to take a moment to talk about Alec Smith. Alec was loved by his family and friends and worked hard as a restaurant manager. He had a dream of owning his own one day.

Last year, when Alec turned 26, he was kicked off his mom's health insurance. He couldn't afford insurance of his own on his salary of $35,000. His insulin alone cost him $1,300 a month. Alec started rationing the insulin that was saving his life, and he died a month later.

Alec couldn't afford his life, and he wasn't alone. The price of insulin has gone up 1,200 percent in 20 years. This has enhanced the profits of the corporations that make it, and threatened the lives of the 1.25 million Americans who live with Type 1 diabetes — especially African Americans, Latinos and Latinas, and American Indians, all of whom live with far higher rates of it.

In this time of the worst income inequality in America in a century, one of the last bastions of power for regular people is our democracy. But the demands of profit over people are putting pressure on our democracy.

As the People's Lawyer, the Minnesota Attorney General's Office will be the place — as it has been from Walter Mondale to Lori Swanson — where we protect the rights of the people.

Minnesotans deserve an Attorney General's Office where they can count on fair treatment and equal justice. And they won't just come to us — we'll go to them. There is no town or county too small or too far from the metro that my office won't help. The Minnesota Attorney General's Office will be the place where everybody counts and everybody matters.

Protecting people before profit is hard work. Protecting our democracy is hard work. What makes the work easy is this: Minnesotans already know how to help each other afford their lives and live with dignity and respect — because we do it every day. It's who we are.

I want to thank Minnesotans for this incredible honor. I want to thank my mother, Clida Ellison, and all my family and friends. I want to thank my wife Mónica Hurtado for standing with me through thick and thin.

No matter how you voted, or even if you voted: You count. You matter. I am on your side.

Thank you. Let's get to work. — Keith Ellison, Minneapolis

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