Texas Attorney General
|Attorney General of Texas|
|Term length||Four years, no term limits|
|Inaugural holder||Volney E. Howard|
The Office of the Attorney General was first established by executive ordinance of the Republic of Texas government in 1836. The attorneys general of the Republic of Texas and the first four attorneys general under the 1845 state constitution were appointed by the governor. The office was made elective in 1850 by constitutional amendment.
The Attorney General is elected to a four-year term. In 2013, former Attorney General Greg Abbott announced he would not seek reelection and would run for Governor. In November 2014, he was elected as the Governor of Texas. Ken Paxton defeated former House Representative Dan Branch in the Republican primary by a 26% margin and was elected easily in the general election as the 50th Attorney General of Texas, (there is a historical dispute whether he is the 50th or 51st Attorney General). Ken Paxton was sworn in on January 5, 2015, in the Senate Chamber in the Texas Capitol. Governor Rick Perry, Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst, United States Senator Ted Cruz, and Lieutenant Governor-Elect Dan Patrick all participated in the swearing-in ceremony.
Duties and responsibilities
The Attorney General is charged by the state constitution to represent the state in civil litigation and approve public bond issues. There are nearly 2,000 references to the Office of the Attorney General in state laws.
The Office of the Attorney General serves as legal counsel to all boards and agencies of state government, issues legal opinions when requested by the governor, heads of state agencies and other officials and commissions, and defends challenges to state laws and suits against both state agencies and individual employees of the state. These duties include representing the Director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice in appeals from criminal convictions in federal courts.
The Texas Constitution gives the Attorney General no general law-enforcement powers; instead it limits the Attorney General's authority in criminal cases to that dictated by statute. The Texas Legislature has not given the Attorney General broad law-enforcement authority, but permits the Attorney General to act in criminal cases "at the request of" prosecutors.
The Office of the Attorney General, Law Enforcement Division employs a staff of sworn commissioned Texas peace officers (state police) that investigate public corruption, violent crime, human trafficking, money laundering, medicaid provider fraud, mortgage fraud, election violations, cybercrime, fugitives (apprehension), investigate other special classes of offenses, and conduct criminal investigations at the request of local prosecutors. In addition, the Law Enforcement Division is the state of Texas liaison to Interpol (International Criminal Police Organization) and the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).
List of Texas Attorneys General
|Attorney General||Took office||Left office||Political Party|
|Volney Howard||February 21, 1846||May 7, 1846||Democrat|
|John W. Harris||May 7, 1846||October 31, 1849||Democrat|
|Henry Percy Brewster||October 31, 1849||January 15, 1850|
|Andrew Jackson Hamilton||January 15, 1850||August 5, 1850||Democrat|
|Ebenezer Allen1||August 5, 1850||August 2, 1852|
|Thomas J. Jennings||August 2, 1852||August 4, 1856|
|James Willie||August 4, 1856||August 2, 1858|
|Malcolm D. Graham||August 2, 1858||August 6, 1860||Democrat|
|George M. Flournoy||August 6, 1860||January 15, 1862||Democrat|
|Nathan G. Shelley||Democrat|
|Benjamin E. Tarver|
|William M. Walton||August 9, 1866||August 8, 1867||Democrat|
|Ezekiel B. Turner||Nov. 5, 1867||July 11, 1870||Independent|
|William Alexander||July 11, 1870||Jan. 27, 1874||Republican|
|George W. Clark||Jan. 27, 1874||Apr. 25, 1876||Democrat|
|Hannibal Boone||Apr. 25, 1876||Nov. 5, 1878||Democrat|
|George McCormick||Nov. 5, 1878||Nov. 2, 1880|
|James H. McLeary||Nov. 2, 1880||Nov. 7, 1882||Democrat|
|John D. Templeton||Nov. 7, 1882||Nov. 2, 1886||Democrat|
|Jim Hogg||Nov. 2, 1886||Nov. 4, 1890||Democrat|
|Charles Allen Culberson||Nov. 4, 1890||Nov. 8, 1894||Democrat|
|Martin McNulty Crane||Nov. 6, 1894||Nov. 8, 1898||Democrat|
|Thomas Slater Smith||Nov. 8, 1898||March 15, 1901||Democrat|
|Charles K. Bell||March 15, 1901||January 1,1904||Democrat|
|Robert V. Davidson||January 1,1904||January 1, 1910||Democrat|
|Jewel P. Lightfoot||January 1, 1910||August 31, 1912||Democrat|
|James D. Walthall||September 1, 1912||January 1, 1913||Democrat|
|B. F. Looney||January 1, 1913||January 1919||Democrat|
|Calvin M. Cureton||January 1919||December 1921||Democrat|
|Walter Angus Keeling||December 1921||January 1925||Democrat|
|Dan Moody||January 1925||January 1927||Democrat|
|Claude Pollard2||January 1927||September 1929||Democrat|
|Robert L. Bobbitt3||September 1929||January 1931||Democrat|
|James Allred||January 1931||January 1935||Democrat|
|William McCraw||January 1935||January 1939||Democrat|
|Gerald Mann||January 1939||January 1944||Democrat|
|Grover Sellers||January 1944||January 1947||Democrat|
|Price Daniel||January 1947||January 1953||Democrat|
|John Ben Shepperd||January 1953||January 1, 1957||Democrat|
|Will Wilson||January 1, 1957||January 15, 1963||Democrat|
|Waggoner Carr||January 15, 1963||January 1, 1967||Democrat|
|Crawford Martin||January 1, 1967||December 29, 1972||Democrat|
|John Hill||January 1, 1973||January 19, 1979||Democrat|
|Mark White||January 19, 1979||January 18, 1983||Democrat|
|Jim Mattox||January 18, 1983||January 15, 1991||Democrat|
|Dan Morales||January 15, 1991||January 13, 1999||Democrat|
|John Cornyn||January 13, 1999||December 2, 2002||Republican|
|Greg Abbott||December 2, 2002||January 5, 2015||Republican|
|Ken Paxton||January 5, 2015||Incumbent||Republican|
Many leading political figures in Texas history have served as Attorney General, several of them using the office as a jumping off place to other offices in the state and national government. Attorneys general James S. Hogg, Charles A. Culberson, Dan Moody, James Allred, Price Daniel, Mark White, and Greg Abbott were elected governor. Culberson, Daniel, and John Cornyn were later elected to the United States Senate.
- First elected Attorney General (AG) of State of Texas; previously elected AG of the Republic of Texas
- Texas Constitution Article 4 Section 22.
- "Contacting the Office of the Attorney General." Texas Attorney General. Accessed September 13, 2008.
- "STATE AGENCIES Archived 2008-08-21 at the Wayback Machine.." State of Texas State Classification. Accessed September 13, 2008.
- Texas attorney general election, 2014, Ballotpedia.
- Barnett, Marissa (January 2015). "Ken Paxton vows to continue Abbott's federal fights as attorney general". Dallas News. The Dallas Morning News Inc. Retrieved 8 October 2017.
- Texas Constitution Article 3 Section 49.
- Texas Government Code section 402.028.
- Duties & Responsibilities - Office of the Attorney General
- Attorney General from the Handbook of Texas Online
- Texas Attorney General official website
- Texas Attorney General articles at Legal Newsline Legal Journal
- Texas Attorney General articles at ABA Journal
- News and Commentary at FindLaw
- U.S. Supreme Court Opinions - "Cases with title containing: State of Texas" at FindLaw
- State Bar of Texas
- Texas Attorney General Opinions, hosted by the Portal to Texas History.