Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman is facing calls to step down after again being accused of retaliating against a veteran prosecutor in his office.
That settlement was the result of a sex discrimination complaint submitted to the Minnesota Department of Human Rights. In that complaint, Sweasy accused Freeman of making “sexist and discriminatory” remarks and then retaliating against her when she reported them.
“That’s some outfit. Does your husband know you dress like that?” Freeman allegedly said in June 2019. That same month, Sweasy said Freeman made comments during a meeting about how “big white boys like us aren’t going to be ruling the world anymore.”
“We already had to let the white girls in because … we need someone to keep our feet warm at night,” he allegedly said.
According to the complaint, Freeman ridiculed another female attorney for having the “judgment of a toad.”
As part of the $190,000 settlement, the county promoted Sweasy, appointed her to lead a new unit in the office, and assigned her to a new supervisor.
“As soon as the announcement was made, Freeman began mocking Sweasy and her new job to Managers and others in the office,” Sweasy claims in her new complaint. “Freeman told HCAO staff that Sweasy’s job was ‘not real’ and that ‘they just needed a place to put her until the end of the year.’”
According to the lawsuit, several other employees received the same promotion as Sweasy, which was done to “devalue and dilute the distinction Sweasy believed she was getting in the Settlement Agreement.”
Freeman has also discouraged other senior attorneys from working with Sweasy, the lawsuit claims.
“Defendant Hennepin County has perpetrated and condoned the misconduct and almost-daily retaliation against Sweasy to continue since April 19, 2022,” it continues. “Defendant Hennepin County’s continued retaliation against Plaintiff is extraordinary, precisely because of the form it takes: namely, a persistent effort by an elected prosecutor to undermine prosecution of serious, complex felonies in a county beset by rising crime.”
Republican attorney general candidate Jim Schultz called on Freeman to step down in response to the new allegations.
“It is past time for Mike Freeman to resign. With multiple allegations of sex discrimination and retaliation, he can no longer effectively lead his office. And I call upon Keith Ellison to put aside his close friendship with Mike Freeman and join with me in calling for Mr. Freeman to step aside,” Schultz said.
“I’m going to defend my friend Mike Freeman. He’s a good man and he does a good job and he’s protected the people of this county,” Ellison said.
Ellison’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
“We intend to vigorously defend this lawsuit,” Freeman told KSTP. “We will have no further comment while this matter is pending.”