Attorney General of Pennsylvania

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Pennsylvania Attorney General
General information
Office Type:  Partisan
Office website:  Official Link
2012-2013 FY Budget:  $78,121,000
Term limits:  2 terms
Length of term:   4 years
Authority:  Pennsylvania Constitution, Article IV, Section 4
Selection Method:  Elected
Current Officeholder

Kathleen Kane 2013.jpg
Name:  Kathleen Kane
Officeholder Party:  Democratic
Assumed office:  January 15, 2013
Compensation:  $156,264
Next election:  November 8, 2016
Last election:  November 6, 2012
Other Pennsylvania Executive Offices
GovernorLieutenant GovernorSecretary of StateAttorney GeneralTreasurerAuditorSuperintendent of EducationAgriculture CommissionerInsurance CommissionerNatural Resources CommissionerLabor CommissionerPublic Service Commission
The Attorney General of Pennsylvania is the chief law enforcement officer of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The attorney general represents the state and state agencies in any action brought by or against the Commonwealth or its agencies. Additionally, the attorney general is responsible for collecting all debts, taxes and accounts due to the state.

The attorney general serves as a member of boards and commissions including: the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, the Board of Pardons, the Board of Finance and Revenue, the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, the Municipal Police Officers Education and Training Commission and the Mid-Atlantic Great Lakes Organized Crime Law Enforcement Network.

Current officeholder

The current officeholder is Kathleen Kane (D). She was first elected in 2012 and took office on January 15, 2013. Kane is the first Democrat and first woman elected attorney general in Pennsylvania history.


The state Constitution addresses the office of the secretary of state in Article IV.

Under Article IV, Section 4:

An Attorney General shall be chosen by the qualified electors of the Commonwealth on the day the general election is held for the Auditor General and State Treasurer; he shall hold his office during four years from the third Tuesday of January next ensuing his election and shall not be eligible to serve continuously for more than two successive terms; he shall be the chief law officer of the Commonwealth and shall exercise such powers and perform such duties as may be imposed by law.


Article IV Section 5 of the state Constitution also outlines the qualifications for holding the office of secretary of state.

Article IV, Section 5:

No person shall be eligible to the office of Governor, Lieutenant Governor or Attorney General except a citizen of the United States, who shall have attained the age of thirty years, and have been seven years next preceding his election an inhabitant of this Commonwealth, unless he shall have been absent on the public business of the United States or of this Commonwealth. No person shall be eligible to the office of Attorney General except a member of the bar of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.

  • at least 30 years old
  • a resident of Pennsylvania for at least the previous seven years
  • a member of bar of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania


Pennsylvania state government organizational chart

Pennsylvania elects the attorney general in presidential election years. For Pennsylvania, 2016, 2020 and 2024 are all attorney general election years. The term for the office begins on the third Tuesday of January following the election.

In the primary election of 1978, Pennsylvania voters approved a Constitutional amendment that changed the attorney general from an appointed position to an elected position. Enacted to treat rising levels of corruption within the office during the preceding decade, the switch was implemented in 1980 when Republican LeRoy S. Zimmerman became Pennsylvania's first elected attorney general.[1]

Term limits

Attorneys general in Pennsylvania are prevented, by commonwealth law, from serving more than two successive terms.

Full history


Article IV, Section 8 of the Pennsylvania Constitution grants the governor the power to appoint officers to fill vacancies. In the event of a vacancy in the office of attorney general, the governor nominates a successor. This nomination must be made to the commonwealth senate within 90 days of the vacancy. The senate must then take action (confirming or not confirming the nomination) within 25 legislative days.[2]


The basic duties of the attorney general, as outlined by the Commonwealth Attorneys Act, are:

  • serve as the commonwealth's chief law enforcement officer;
  • collect all debts, taxes, and account due to the commonwealth
  • represent the commonwealth and all agencies in any action brought by or against the commonwealth
  • administer the provision relating to consumer protection laws
  • represent the commonwealth and its citizens in any action brought about for violation of the antitrust laws[3]


The office of attorney general is divided into three sections:

  • The Criminal Law Division investigates drug trafficking, child predators, organized crime, public corruption, insurance fraud and other criminal violations.
  • The Public Protection Division safeguards the personal rights of the citizens of Pennsylvania and protects the public interest. The division handles consumer complaints through the Bureau of Consumer Protection and the Healthcare Section, oversees Tobacco enforcement, Charitable Trusts and Organizations, Antitrust actions and Civil Rights Enforcement.
  • The Civil Law Division defends the constitutionality of Pennsylvania law, represents Commonwealth agencies, defends the Commonwealth in tax appeals, collects delinquent taxes and other debts owed to the Commonwealth, handles or supervises various appeals and reviews Commonwealth contracts, regulations and bond issues for form and legality.

State budget

See also: Pennsylvania state budget and finances

The budget for the Attorney General's office in Fiscal Year 2012-2013 was $78,121,000.[4]


See also: Compensation of state executive officers

The attorney general's salary is set by statute and subject to cost-of-living adjustments, also known as COLAs, pursuant to Section 3(e) of the Public Official Compensation Law (amended in 1995). This law mandates that Pennsylvania executives' salaries "shall be increased by applying the percentage change in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) for the Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland area for the most recent 12-month period for which figures have been officially reported by the United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) immediately prior to the date adjustment is due to take effect."[5]

Under this law, the appropriate salaries were last increased by 1.6 percent, effective January 1, 2015.[6]


In 2014, the attorney general was paid an estimated $156,264, according to the Council of State Governments.[7]


In 2013, the attorney general was paid an estimated $155,797, according to the Council of State Governments.[8]


In 2012, the attorney general was paid an estimated $155,797, according to the Council of State Governments.


In 2010, the attorney general was paid an estimated $145,529 according to the Sunshine Review.[9]

Historical officeholders

Name Attorney General term
LeRoy S. Zimmerman 1981–1989
Ernie Preate 1989–1995
Tom Corbett 1995–1997
Mike Fisher 1997–2004
Jerry Pappert 2004–2005
Tom Corbett 2005–2011
Linda L. Kelly 2011–2013
Kathleen Kane 2013–present

Recent news

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

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 Pennsylvania - Google News Feed

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Contact information

Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General
16th Floor
Strawberry Square
Harrisburg, PA 17120

Phone: 717-787-3391
Fax: 717-787-8242

See also

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External links

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