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Texas Attorney General

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Attorney General of Texas
Seal of Texas Attorney General.svg
Ken Paxton

since January 5, 2015
StyleThe Honorable
Term lengthFour years, no term limits
Inaugural holderVolney E. Howard
FormationTexas Constitution

The Texas attorney general is the chief legal officer[1] of the U.S. state of Texas. The current officeholder, Republican Ken Paxton, has served in the position since January 5, 2015.

The department has offices at the William P. Clements State Office Building in Downtown Austin.[2][3]


The William P. Clements State Office Building houses the Attorney General offices.
The William P. Clements State Office Building houses the Attorney General offices.

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,[4] (there is a historical dispute whether he is the 50th or 51st attorney general).[5] 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.[6]

Duties and responsibilities

The attorney general is charged by the state constitution to represent the state in civil litigation[1] and approve public bond issues.[7] 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.[1] 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.[8]

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).

The office is also charged with proceedings to secure child support through its Child Support Division.[9]


Attorneys general by party affiliation
Party Attorneys general
Democratic 44
Republican 4
Unionist 2
Attorneys general in chronological order, showing party affiliation
No. Name Term of service Political party
1 Volney Howard 1846 Democratic
2 John W. Harris 1846–1849 Democratic
3 Henry Percy Brewster 1849–1850 Democratic
4 Andrew Jackson Hamilton 1850 Democratic
5 Ebenezer Allen1 1850–1852 Democratic
6 Thomas J. Jennings 1852–1856 Democratic
7 James Willie 1856–1858 Democratic
8 Malcolm D. Graham 1858–1860 Democratic
9 George M. Flournoy 1860–1862 Democratic
10 Nathan G. Shelley 1862–1864 Democratic
11 Benjamin E. Tarver 1864–1865 Democratic
12 William Alexander 1865–1866 Unionist
13 William M. Walton 1866–1867 Democratic
14 Ezekiel B. Turner 1867–1870 Unionist
15 William Alexander 1870–1874 Republican
16 George W. Clark 1874–1876 Democratic
17 Hannibal Boone 1876–1878 Democratic
18 George McCormick 1878–1880 Democratic
19 James H. McLeary 1880–1882 Democratic
20 John D. Templeton 1882–1886 Democratic
21 Jim Hogg 1886–1890 Democratic
22 Charles Allen Culberson 1890–1894 Democratic
23 Martin McNulty Crane 1894–1898 Democratic
24 Thomas Slater Smith 1898–1901 Democratic
25 Charles K. Bell 1901–1904 Democratic
26 Robert V. Davidson 1904–1910 Democratic
27 Jewel P. Lightfoot 1910–1912 Democratic
28 James D. Walthall 1912–1913 Democratic
29 B. F. Looney 1913–1919 Democratic
30 Calvin Maples Cureton 1919–1921 Democratic
31 Walter Angus Keeling 1921–1925 Democratic
32 Dan Moody 1925–1927 Democratic
33 Claude Pollard2 1927–1929 Democratic
34 Robert L. Bobbitt3 1929–1931 Democratic
35 James V. Allred 1931–1935 Democratic
36 William McCraw 1935–1939 Democratic
37 Gerald Mann 1939–1944 Democratic
38 Grover Sellers 1944–1947 Democratic
39 Price Daniel 1947–1953 Democratic
40 John Ben Shepperd 1953–1957 Democratic
41 Will Wilson 1957–1963 Democratic
42 Waggoner Carr 1963–1967 Democratic
43 Crawford Martin 1967–1972 Democratic
44 John Hill 1973–1979 Democratic
45 Mark White 1979–1983 Democratic
46 Jim Mattox 1983–1991 Democratic
47 Dan Morales 1991–1999 Democratic
48 John Cornyn 1999–2002 Republican
49 Greg Abbott 2002–2015 Republican
50 Ken Paxton 2015–present Republican

Political prominence

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 V. Allred, Price Daniel, Mark White, and Greg Abbott were elected governor. Culberson, Daniel, and John Cornyn were later elected to the United States Senate.[10]


  1. First elected attorney general (AG) of state of Texas; previously elected AG of the Republic of Texas
  2. Resigned
  3. Appointed


  1. ^ a b c Texas Constitution Article 4 Section 22.
  2. ^ "Contacting the Office of the Attorney General." Texas Attorney General. Accessed September 13, 2008.
  3. ^ "STATE AGENCIES Archived 2008-08-21 at the Wayback Machine." State of Texas State Classification. Accessed September 13, 2008.
  4. ^ Texas attorney general election, 2014, Ballotpedia.
  5. ^
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ Texas Constitution Article 3 Section 49.
  8. ^ Texas Government Code section 402.028.
  9. ^ Duties & Responsibilities - Office of the Attorney General
  10. ^ Attorney General from the Handbook of Texas Online

External links

This page was last edited on 26 March 2021, at 21:07
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