Attorney General of Washington

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Washington Attorney General
General information
Office Type:  Partisan
Office website:  Official Link
2011-2013 FY Budget:  $227,546,000
Term limits:  None
Length of term:   4 years
Authority:  Washington Constitution, Article 3, Section 2
Selection Method:  Elected
Current Officeholder

Bob Ferguson Head Shot.jpg
Name:  Bob Ferguson
Officeholder Party:  Democratic
Assumed office:  January 16, 2013
Compensation:  $151,718
Next election:  November 8, 2016
Last election:  November 6, 2012
Other Washington Executive Offices
GovernorLieutenant GovernorSecretary of StateAttorney GeneralTreasurerAuditorSuperintendent of Education• • Agriculture CommissionerInsurance CommissionerNatural Resources CommissionerLabor CommissionerPublic Service Commissioner
The Attorney General of Washington is an elected executive position in the Washington state government. As the chief legal officer for the state, the attorney general represents state clients and the public interest as directed by state law. The attorney general is popularly elected by the citizens of Washington in presidential election years and serves a four-year term.

Current officeholder

The current officeholder is Bob Ferguson, a Democrat elected in 2012. He succeeded former Republican Attorney General Rob McKenna on January 16, 2013.


Article 3 of the state constitution establishes the state's executive offices.

Article III, Section 2:

Executive Department. The executive department shall consist of a governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, treasurer, auditor, attorney general, superintendent of public instruction, and a commissioner of public lands, who shall be severally chosen by the qualified electors of the state at the same time and place of voting as for the members of the legislature.


Under state law, the attorney general must be a qualified practitioner of the state supreme court.

Additionally, Article 3, Section 25 of the state constitution establishes the qualifications of state offices in general:

Qualifications, Compensation, Offices Which May Be Abolished. No person, except a citizen of the United States and a qualified elector of this state, shall be eligible to hold any state office...
  • a citizen of the United States
  • a qualified elector in Washington


Washington state government organizational chart

In Washington, the governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, treasurer, auditor, attorney general, superintendent of public instruction and commissioner of public lands are elected every four years. Elections are held in November and winners assume office the following January, serving until their successors are elected and qualified.

Washington elects their state executives in presidential years–including 2016, 2020 and 2024.


See also: Washington attorney general election, 2012

Incumbent Rob McKenna (R) chose to run for Governor of Washington rather than run for re-election as attorney general in 2012, and Bob Ferguson (D) won the open seat in the general election on November 6, 2012.

Attorney General of Washington General Election, 2012
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngBob Ferguson 53.5% 1,564,443
     Republican Reagan Dunn 46.5% 1,361,010
Total Votes 2,925,453
Election Results via Washington Secretary of State.

Full history


In the event of a vacancy in this office, the governor shall fill the vacancy by appointment. The term of the appointee expires when a successor has been elected and qualified.


The specific duties of the attorney general are outlines in Chapter 43 of the Washington state laws:[1]

  1. Appear for and represent the state before the supreme court or the court of appeals in all cases in which the state is interested;
  2. Institute and prosecute all actions and proceedings for, or for the use of the state, which may be necessary in the execution of the duties of any state officer;
  3. Defend all actions and proceedings against any state officer or employee acting in his or her official capacity, in any of the courts of this state or the United States;
  4. Consult with and advise the several prosecuting attorneys in matters relating to the duties of their office, and when the interests of the state require, he or she shall attend the trial of any person accused of a crime and assist in the prosecution;
  5. Consult with and advise the governor, members of the legislature and other state officers, and when requested, give written opinions upon all constitutional or legal questions relating to the duties of such officers;
  6. Prepare proper drafts of contracts and other instruments relating to subjects in which the state is interested;
  7. Give written opinions, when requested by either branch of the legislature, or any committee thereof, upon constitutional or legal questions;
  8. Enforce the proper application of funds appropriated for the public institutions of the state and prosecute corporations for failure or refusal to make the reports required by law;
  9. Keep in proper books a record of all cases prosecuted or defended by him or her, on behalf of the state or its officers, and of all proceedings had in relation thereto and deliver the same to his or her successor in office;
  10. Keep books in which he or she shall record all the official opinions given by him or her during his or her term of office and deliver the same to his or her successor in office;
  11. Pay into the state treasury all moneys received by him or her for the use of the state.


The office of the Washington Attorney General has 27 legal divisions located in 12 different cities across the state.

  • Agriculture & Health
  • Antitrust
  • Bankruptcy & Collections
  • Consumer Protection
  • Corrections
  • Criminal Justice
  • Ecology
  • Education
  • Fish, Wildlife & Parks
  • Government Compliance & Enforcement
  • Government Operations
  • Labor & Industries
  • Labor & Personnel
  • Licensing & Administrative Law
  • Natural Resources
  • Public Counsel
  • Regional Services
  • Revenue
  • Social & Health Services
  • Solicitor General
  • Torts
  • Transportation & Public Construction
  • University of Washington
  • Utilities & Transportation
  • Washington State University

State budget

See also: Washington state budget and finances

The budget for the attorney general's office in Fiscal Year 2011-2013 was $227,546,000.[2]


See also: Compensation of state executive officers

The attorney general's salary is addressed in Article III, Section 21 of the Washington Constitution. The constitution initially set the annual salary of the attorney general at $2,000, but provided for the amount to be raised up to a maximum of $3,500 at the discretion of the Washington State Legislature. Since 1986, the attorney general's salary is determined by the Washington Citizens' Commission on Salaries for Elected Officials.[3]

In 1948, the voters adopted the 20th constitutional amendment, creating Article 28, Section 1, which authorized the state legislature to establish the compensation received by all elected state officials. Several changes to the procedure, including three more constitutional amendments, followed, the most recent being the 78th amendment or House Joint Resolution 49. Approved voters in the 1986 general election, HJR 49 created the Washington Citizens' Commission on Salaries for Elected Officials, the independent salary-setting authority that took over the legislature's responsibility of setting the salaries of elected officials across the three branches of the Washington state government.[4][5]


In 2014, the attorney general received a salary of $151,718, according to the Council of State Governments.[6]


In 2012, the attorney general was paid an estimated $151,718, according to the Council of State Governments.

Historical officeholders

There have been 18 attorneys general since Washington became a state on November 11, 1889. Previously, James Metcalf was the attorney general for the territory.[7]

List of Former Officeholders from 1887-Present
# Name Tenure Party
1 James B Metcalf 1887-1889 No affiliation
2 William C. Jones 1889-1897 No affiliation
3 Patrick Henry Winston 1897-1901 Populist
4 Wickliffe Stratton 1901-1905 Ends.png Republican
5 John Atkinson 1905-1909 Ends.png Republican
6 Walter Bell 1909-1911 Ends.png Republican
7 William V. Tanner 1911-1919 Ends.png Republican
8 L.L. Thompson 1919-1923 Ends.png Republican
9 John Dunbar 1923-1933 Ends.png Republican
10 Garrison Hamilton 1933-1940 Electiondot.png Democratic
11 Smith Troy 1941-1952 Electiondot.png Democratic
12 Don Eastvold 1953-1956 Ends.png Republican
13 John J. O'Connell 1957-1968 Electiondot.png Democratic
14 Slade Gorton 1969-1980 Ends.png Republican
15 Ken Eikenberry 1981-1992 Ends.png Republican
16 Christine Gregoire 1993-2004 Electiondot.png Democratic
17 Rob McKenna 2005-2012 Ends.png Republican
18 Bob Ferguson 2013-Present Electiondot.png Democratic

Recent news

This section displays the most recent stories in a Google news search for the terms "Washington 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 Washington - Google News Feed

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Contact information

1125 Washington Street SE
PO Box 40100
Olympia, WA 98504-0100

Phone: (360) 753-6200

See also

External links

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