Attorney General of California

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California Attorney General
General information
Office Type:  Partisan
Office website:  Official Link
2012-2013 FY Budget:  $741,778,000
Term limits:  2 terms
Length of term:   4 years
Authority:  California Constitution, Article 5, Section 11
Selection Method:  Elected
Current Officeholder

Kamala Harris.jpg
Name:  Kamala D. Harris
Officeholder Party:  Democratic
Assumed office:  January 2011
Compensation:  $151,127
Next election:  November 6, 2018
Last election:  November 4, 2014
Other California Executive Offices
GovernorLieutenant GovernorSecretary of StateAttorney GeneralTreasurerAuditorControllerSuperintendent of Public InstructionAgriculture SecretaryInsurance CommissionerNatural Resources SecretaryIndustrial Relations DirectorPublic Utilities Commission
The Attorney General of California is the chief law officer of California and the state's primary legal counsel. The attorney general "[sees] that the laws of the State are uniformly and adequately enforced" and prosecutes violations of state law through the California Department of Justice, which he or she oversees.[1]

The officeholder also represents state agencies and officers in legal matters and provides legal advice on request. Further, the attorney general plays a direct role in law enforcement efforts and "coordinates statewide narcotics enforcement efforts, participates in criminal investigations and provides forensic science services, identification and information services and telecommunication support."[1]

Additionally, attorneys general play a prominent policymaking role by "[establishing] and [operating] projects and programs to protect Californians from fraudulent, unfair, and illegal activities that victimize consumers or threaten public safety."[1]

Current officeholder

The current attorney general is Democrat Kamala D. Harris. Harris was first elected in November 2010 and assumed office on January 1, 2011. She won re-election to a second four-year term as attorney general on November 4, 2014. Before becoming attorney general, Harris served two terms as district attorney for San Francisco.[2]


The office of attorney general is established by the California Constitution.[3]

California Constitution, Article 5, Section 11

The Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Controller, Secretary of State, and Treasurer shall be elected at the same time and places and for the same term as the Governor.


State law requires that the attorney general be admitted to practice before the California Supreme Court for five years before election.[4]

California Government Code, Section 12503

No person shall be eligible to the office of Attorney General unless he shall have been admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of the state for a period of at least five years immediately preceding his election or appointment to such office.

Additionally, each candidate for attorney general must:[5]

  • Be a registered voter
  • Be registered with their party for at least three months
    • Not have been registered with a different political party in the last 12 months
  • Not have been previously term-limited out


California state government organizational chart

Attorneys general are elected on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in federal midterm election years, e.g. 2018, 2022, 2026 and 2030.[6] Like all constitutional state officers, the attorney general assumes office on the first Monday in the new year following the election.[3]

California Constitution, Article 5, Section 11

The Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Controller, and Treasurer shall be elected at the same time and places and for the same term as the Governor. No Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Controller, Secretary of State, or Treasurer may serve in the same office for more than 2 terms.


See also: California attorney general election, 2014
Attorney General of California, 2014
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngKamala Harris Incumbent 57.5% 4,102,649
     Republican Ronald Gold 42.5% 3,033,476
Total Votes 7,136,125
Election Results via California Secretary of State.

Term limits

Attorneys general, like all state constitutional officers, face an absolute limit of two terms in office.[3]

Full History


The vacancy procedure for the office of attorney general is determined by the Constitution. When a vacancy occurs, the governor nominates a replacement to serve the remainder of the term under the next election. The appointee must be confirmed by a majority of both house of the California legislature. Until the replacement is approved, the former officeholder's chief deputy exercises the office.[9]

California Constitution, Article 5, Section 5b

Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, the Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, Controller, Treasurer, or Attorney General, or on the State Board of Equalization, the Governor shall nominate a person to fill the vacancy who shall take office upon confirmation by a majority of the membership of the Senate and a majority of the membership of the Assembly and who shall hold office for the balance of the unexpired term. In the event the nominee is neither confirmed nor refused confirmation by both the Senate and the Assembly within 90 days of the submission of the nomination, the nominee shall take office as if he or she had been confirmed by a majority of the Senate and Assembly; provided, that if such 90-day period ends during a recess of the Legislature, the period shall be extended until the sixth day following the day on which the Legislature reconvenes.


The attorney general acts as the state's chief law officer and oversees the California Department of Justice. He or she supervises the state's district and city attorneys, as well as its law enforcement officers. The attorney general may personally prosecute any case that would normally be handled by a district or city attorney, and represents the state in all cases before the California Supreme Court. Additionally, the attorney general is responsible for issuing formal legal advice to state agencies and officers.

The attorney general also has a policymaking role in state law enforcement, and "establishes and operates projects and programs to protect Californians from fraudulent, unfair, and illegal activities that victimize consumers or threaten public safety." Examples include the Medi-Cal Fraud & Elder Abuse, Megan's Law (sex offenses), California's Most Wanted and Campaign Against Marijuana Planting programs.

He or she also fulfills a number of administrative duties, including preparing an annual report for the Governor of California on the state of his department, calling meetings of state law enforcement officers, and disposes of property forfeited to the state by court judgments.


Note: Ballotpedia's state executive officials project researches state official websites for information that describes the divisions (if any exist) of a state executive office. That information for the Attorney General of California has not yet been added. After extensive research we were unable to identify any relevant information on state official websites. If you have any additional information about this office for inclusion on this section and/or page, please email us.

State budget

See also: California state budget and finances

The budget for the attorney general-led Department of Justice in the 2012-2013 Fiscal Year was $741,778,000.[10]


See also: Compensation of state executive officers

The salaries of California's elected executives are determined by the California Citizens Compensation Commission, a seven-member board appointed by the governor to six-year terms. The commission was established after voters passed Proposition 112, an amendment to the California Constitution, in 1990. Commissioners meet prior to June 30 of each year to determine salary recommendations with changes effective the following December. From 2001 to 2013, the commission voted to increase salaries or benefits five times and decreased or made no changes to salaries eight times.[11]


In 2014, the attorney general received a salary of $151,127, according to the Council of State Governments.[12]


In 2013, the attorney general received a salary of $151,127. This figure comes from the Council of State Governments.[13]


In 2010, the attorney general received a salary of $151,127.[14]

Historical officeholders

There have been 32 California Attorneys General since 1849. Of the 32 officeholders, 18 were Democrat, 13 were Republican and one was American Independent.[15]

List of Former Officeholders from 1849-Present
# Name Tenure Party
1 Edward J. C. Kewan 1849-1850 Electiondot.png Democratic
2 James A. McDougall 1850-1852 Electiondot.png Democratic
3 S. Clinton Hastings 1852-1854 Electiondot.png Democratic
4 John R. McConnell 1854-1854 Electiondot.png Democratic
5 William M. Stewart 1854-1856 Electiondot.png Democratic
6 William T. Wallace 1856-1858 Yellowslashed.png American Independent Party
7 Thomas H. Williams 1858-1862 Electiondot.png Democratic
8 Frank M. Pixley 1862-1863 Ends.png Republican
9 John G. McCullough 1863-1867 Ends.png Republican Unionist
10 Jo Hamilton 1867-1871 Electiondot.png Democratic
11 John Lord Love 1871-1875 Ends.png Republican
12 Jo Hamilton 1875-1880 Electiondot.png Democratic
13 Augustus L. Hart 1880-1883 Ends.png Republican
14 Edward C. Marshall 1883-1883 Electiondot.png Democratic
15 George A. Johnson 1883-1887 Electiondot.png Democratic
16 Wm. H. H. Hart 1887-1891 Ends.png Republican
17 William F. Fitzgerald 1891-1899 Ends.png Republican
18 Tirey L. Ford 1899-1902 Ends.png Republican
19 Ulysses S. Webb 1902-1939 Ends.png Republican
20 Earl Warren 1939-1943 Ends.png Republican
21 Robert W. Kenny 1943-1947 Electiondot.png Democratic
22 Fred N. Howser 1947-1951 Ends.png Republican
23 Edmund G. Brown 1951-1959 Electiondot.png Democratic
24 Stanley Mosk 1959-1964 Electiondot.png Democratic
25 Thomas C. Lynch 1964-1971 Electiondot.png Democratic
26 Evelle J. Younger 1971-1979 Ends.png Republican
27 George Deukmejian 1979-2083 Ends.png Republican
28 John Van de Kamp 1983-1991 Electiondot.png Democratic
29 Dan Lungren 1991-1999 Ends.png Republican
30 Bill Lockyer 1999-2007 Electiondot.png Democratic
31 Jerry Brown 2007-2011 Electiondot.png Democratic
32 Kamala Harris 2011-Present Electiondot.png Democratic

Recent news

This section displays the most recent stories in a Google news search for the terms "California Attorney General Harris."

Some of the stories below may not be relevant to this page due to the nature of Google's news search engine.

Attorney General of California - Google News Feed

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Contact Information

Physical address:
Attorney General's Office
California Department of Justice
Attention: Public Inquiry Unit
Post Office Box 944255
Sacramento, CA 94244-2550

Phone: 916-322-3360
Fax: 916-323-5341

See also

External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 State of California Department of Justice, "About the AG," accessed June 24, 2011
  2. State of California Department of Justice, "Office of the Attorney General: Attorney General Kamala Harris," accessed April 13, 2015
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 California Constitution, "Article 5, Section 11," accessed June 23, 2011
  4. California Government Code, "Part 2, Chapter 6, Article 1, Section 12503," accessed June 24, 2011
  5. California Secretary of State, "Summary of Qualifications and Requirements for June 8, 2010 Primary Election... Attorney general, Controller, or Treasurer," accessed June 23, 2011
  6. California Elections Code, "Sections 1001-1003," accessed June 23, 2011
  7. California Secretary of State - 2010 General Election Results
  8. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named casos06
  9. California Constitution, "Article 5, Section 5b," accessed June 27, 2011
  10. California Department of Finance, "Enacted Budget FY 2012-2013," accessed May 28, 2013
  11. California Citizens Compensation Commission, "About the Commission," accessed February 19, 2015
  12. Council of State Governments, "SELECTED STATE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICIALS: ANNUAL SALARIES," accessed November 14, 2014
  13. The Council of State Governments, "Book of the States 2013, Table 4.11," accessed February 2, 2014
  14. Council of State Governments, "Book of the States 2010 -- Table 4.11," accessed June 23, 2011
  15. National Governors Association, "History of California Constitutional Officers," accessed April 13, 2015