Dustin McDaniel

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Dustin McDaniel
Attorney General of Arkansas
Former officeholder
In office
2007 - 2015
PredecessorMike Beebe (D)
Base salary$72,408
Elections and appointments
Last electionNovember 2, 2010
First electedNovember 7, 2006
Next generalNovember 4, 2014
Campaign $$3,313,472
Term limits2 terms
Bachelor'sUniversity of Arkansas-Fayetteville
J.D.University of Arkansas at Little Rock Bowen School of Law
Date of birthApril 29, 1972
Place of birthFayetteville, Arkansas
Office website
Dustin McDaniel (born April 29, 1972, in Fayetteville, Arkansas) was the 55th Attorney General of Arkansas, serving from 2007-2015. A Democrat, McDaniel was first elected to the position in 2006 took office the following January. He won re-election 2010, defeating Green Party candidate Rebekah Kennedy on November 2, 2010. Due to term-limits, McDaniel was ineligible for re-election 2014, and left office when his second term expired in January 2015. He was succeeded by Republican Leslie Rutledge.

The youngest attorney general in the nation as of Febraury 2012, McDaniel's tenure in the role of Arkansas' chief law enforcement officer included milestones such as the founding of the office’s first cyber crimes unit and winning the largest pharmaceutical settlement in state history.[1][2]

Before becoming attorney general, McDaniel was a partner in the law firm of McDaniel and Wells, P.A. He also served one term in the Arkansas House of Representatives, from 2005 to 2007. He served as chair of the southern region of the National Association of Attorneys General and co-chair of the Democratic Association of Attorneys General. He was formerly a police officer in his hometown of Jonesboro, Ark.

McDaniel is barred by term limits from running for a third consecutive term as attorney general in the 2014 elections. He had long been preparing to seek the 2014 Democratic nomination for governor, but a scandal in his personal life induced the former frontrunner to drop out of the race on January 25, 2013.[3][4]


Arkansas' 55th Attorney General was born in Fayetteville but grew up in Jonesboro, where he attended public schools through high school graduation. McDaniel decided to pursue higher education in state, earning both this Bachelor's degree and J.D. from the University of Arkansas, though not consecutively. Before entering law school, McDaniel began his career as a uniformed patrol officer for the Jonesboro Police Department. Upon receiving his law degree in Little Rock, the lifelong Arkansan returned to Jonesboro and joined the private practice law firm of McDaniel & Wells as a partner with his father, Bobby McDaniel.[5] McDaniel has received several award during his career, including a Golden Gavel Award from the Arkansas Bar Association for serving as Chair of the Consumer Law Handbook Committee and a Distinguished Service Award from the Arkansas Bar Association for having the Consumer Law Handbook translated into Spanish.

Prior to becoming Attorney General of Arkansas, McDaniel served as legal Counsel for Craighead County Democratic Central Committee, and as a member of the Democratic Party of Arkansas State Committee.


  • Bachelor's from University of Arkansas-Fayetteville
  • J.D. from University of Arkansas at Little Rock Bowen School of Law

Political career

Attorney General (2007-2015)

McDaniel was first elected attorney general in Nov. 2006, and won re-election in the November 2010 general election by a substantial margin over Green Party Candidate Rebekah Kennedy. He was ineligible to run for a third term in 2014, and was succeeded by Republican Leslie Rutledge in January 2015.


Protecting Financial Aid for Students and Taxpayers Act

On March 11, 2013, McDaniel, together with twelve other state attorneys general, sent a letter to Congress in support of the Protecting Financial Aid for Students and Taxpayers Act, a bill which would ban for-profit colleges from using federal funds for marketing and recruiting techniques.[6] Sponsored by Senators Kay R. Hagan (D-NC) and Tom Harkin (D-IA), who chairs the chamber's Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, the law aims to “ensure that scarce federal education dollars will be used to serve and educate students rather than to finance advertising campaigns, recruitment operations, and aggressive marketing.”[7] Consumer protection is one of the key duties assigned to the attorney general in each state.

According to the law's text, student enrollment at for-profit degree-issuing institutions such as the University of Phoenix more than doubled between 1998-2008, during which time the federal government--through student financial assistance programs--provided 86 percent of revenues to 15 reviewed publicly traded companies operating these for-profit colleges. A separate analysis of 15 such companies concluded that, on average, 28 percent of all expenditures were on advertising, marketing, and recruiting. Critics, including the attorneys general responsible for the letter advocating the bill's passage, contend that these expenditures are used to deceive consumers about program costs, graduation rates, or their employment potential beyond graduation. The bill seeks to restrict spending of this nature by higher education institutions or other postsecondary educational institution by prohibiting use of federal loans or grants in specific areas, and requiring that all such institutions whose revenues can be traced to federal educational assistance funds "report annually to the Secretary and to Congress the institution's expenditures on advertising, marketing, and recruiting."[6]

In the letter, the attorneys general urged, “Federal taxpayers should not be asked to foot the bill for aggressive recruiting and deceptive sales tactics of colleges that have placed profits ahead of ensuring student success.”[8] There are an estimated 3,000 for-profit schools nationwide, though neither the letter nor the bill cited the name of a specific institution.[9]

Consumer protection lawsuit

McDaniel's suit against pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly won Arkansas over $18.5 million dollars, marking the largest pharmaceutical settlement in state history.[5]


He founded the Office’s first cyber crimes unit to address the growing threat to children posed by internet predators.[10]

Second Amendment

McDaniel, an avid hunter, has expressed his support of Second Amendment rights on behalf of Arkansas at the U.S. Supreme Court.[5]


Redistricting threat

On May 9, 2012 McDaniel was prompted to give testimony in response to fellow Democrat, Sen. Jack Crumbly's, lawsuit against Arkansas' Board of Apportionment, made up of the governor, secretary of state, and the attorney general, for allegedly "improperly diluting the black vote in their district."[11] The African-American Senator and other district residents who brought the suit sought to have the district boundaries redrawn to rectify said dilution. McDaniel testified in court that in 2011, Sen. Crumbly threatened to sabotage the attorney general's presumed 2014 gubernatorial run if McDaniel would not help him redraw the new Senate electoral map to increase the percentage of voting-age blacks in his eastern Arkansas district. Crumbly denied the conversation ever took place. Because of the Board's redrawn map, Crumbly's district ended up with a black voting-age population dropping from 55% to just less than 53%- Crumbly wanted 60%. In addition to defending the Board against accusations that it violated the Voting Rights Act, McDaniel said of the map he helped create: “Is it drawn such that an African-American candidate can be elected and that the citizens in that district can vote for the candidate of their choice? Absolutely...I think it was a fair district at 55 percent, and I think it’s a fair district for Mr. Crumbly at 53 percent.”[11]

Consumer Protection Division campaign

On March 5, 2012, McDaniel announced a $350,000 campaign to promote his office's consumer protection division, using settlement money leftover from a 2010 lawsuit against a pharmaceutical company. This campaign to broadcast the division's achievements, dubbed "Got Your Back, Arkansas," was composed of print ads, television and radio spots, and had a website-nucleus featuring several photos of McDaniel. Despite consumer advocacy being at the heart of the AG's office, the campaign, which paid substantial attention to McDaniel, drew dubious reviews from predicted 2014 gubernatorial competitor Lt. Gov. Mark Darr. Darr responded bitterly to the announcement on Twitter, posting his suspicion that McDaniel was exploiting his office's access to state funds for political gain, calling the campaign "self-serving." McDaniel maintained that "Got Your Back, Arkansas's" only purpose was "to better equip Arkansans to avoid pitfalls and we want them to know we can help each of them as consumers in the marketplace today."[12]

See also: Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now

The June 2008 Survey and Scorecard report published by liberal political organization, ACORN, gave McDaniel an A- letter grade. According to the group, the report was published to shine the spotlight on state attorneys general "leading the fight to protect homeowners from joining the flood of Americans losing their homes to foreclosure."[13] The grade distributed to the individual attorneys general "generally broke down along party lines," with the exception of Louisiana's Buddy Caldwell.[14]

Conflict of interest

On November 4, 2008, Initiated Act 1 of Arkansas, a citizen-initiated state statute which made it illegal for any individuals cohabiting outside of a valid marriage to adopt or provide foster care to minors, was passed with fifty-seven percent of the public vote. Nearly two months later, opponents, including the ACLU, filed a lawsuit in Pulaski County Circuit Court asking a judge to strike down the measure on the grounds that it violated federal and state constitutional rights to equal treatment and due process. On March 17, a Pulaski County circuit judge ruled the case should go to trial and threw out a portion of the lawsuit.

As State Attorney General, McDaniel’s office served as the defense attorney in representing the state of Arkansas against this suit. However, as chairman of the "McDaniel Leadership PAC [which] contributed $1,000 on October 28, 2008 to support Arkansas Families First in their campaign against Initiated Act 1," this appeared to be a direct conflict of interest on McDaniel's part.[15] The State AG refused to recuse himself, arguing that he could not "see any reason why we would not be able to vigorously and diligently defend the constitutionality of this act despite the fact that I opposed it on policy grounds."[16]

Arkansas House of Representatives (2004 - 2007)

McDaniel was elected in 2004 to serve as a representative for District 75 in the Arkansas House of Representatives, remaining in the position until 2007 when he ran for state Attorney General.



See also: Arkansas Gubernatorial election, 2014

In June 2012, McDaniel filed paperwork to start raising money for his 2014 campaign for Governor of Arkansas.[17] He dropped out of the race on January 25, 2013. McDaniel had been considered the Democratic frontrunner, but revelations that he had engaged in extra-martial relations with a Hot Springs attorney, Andi Davis,[18] whom he met around his 2010 re-election, ultimately proved too significant a publicity threat to his gubernatorial campaign. His official statement announcing his withdrawal from the race was sent to supporters through e-mail the morning on Jan. 25. McDaniel's statement explained, "I had hoped that I could shape the 2014 gubernatorial debate with my vision for the future. Unfortunately, I am now convinced that if I run for Governor, this campaign would be about me personally, rather than Arkansas's future."[4]


See also: Arkansas Attorney General election, 2010
  • Dustin McDaniel ran unopposed in this contest
2010 Race for Attorney General - General Election[20]
Party Candidate Vote Percentage
     Democratic Party Approveda Dustin McDaniel 72.8%
     Green Party Rebekah Kennedy 26.8%
     Write-In Marc Rosson 0.4%
Total Votes 722,814


2006 Race for Attorney General - Democratic Primary[21]
Party Candidate Vote Percentage
     Democratic Party Approveda Dustin McDaniel 38.4%[22]
     Democratic Party Paul Suskie 32.0%
     Democratic Party Robert Leo Herzfeld 29.6%
Total Votes 271,782
2006 Race for Attorney General - Democratic Primary Runoff[23]
Party Candidate Vote Percentage
     Democratic Party Approveda Dustin McDaniel 50.8%
     Democratic Party Paul Suskie 49.2%
Total Votes 171,334
2006 Race for Attorney General - General Election[24]
Party Candidate Vote Percentage
     Democratic Party Approveda Dustin McDaniel 58.5%
     Republican Party Gunner DeLay 37.1%
     Green Party Rebekah Kennedy 4.4%
Total Votes 758,460

Campaign contributions

Comprehensive donor information for Dustin McDaniel is available dating back to 2004. Based on available campaign finance records, Dustin McDaniel raised a total of $3,313,472 during that time period. This information was last updated on June 25, 2013.[25]

Dustin McDaniel's Campaign Contribution History
Year Office Result Contributions
2012 Attorney General of Arkansas Not up for election $0
2010 Attorney General of Arkansas Won $1,405,030
2008 Attorney General of Arkansas Not up for election $299,390
2006 Attorney General of Arkansas Won $1,501,685
2004 Arkansas House of Representatives, District 75 Won $107,367
Grand Total Raised $3,313,472


According to an end of the year finance disclosure report, McDaniel raised about $410,500 in the final quarter of 2012, leaving his campaign with around $1.1 million cash on hand going into 2013.[26] The report, running from October 1 to December 31, is his first since McDaniel admitted on December 18 to having an extramarital affair.[26] The report listed about $386,027 raised for the primary and $24,500 raised for a potential runoff.[26] A spokesperson for McDaniel's campaign confirmed that the campaign reached its fundraising goals for 2012.[26]


Ballotpedia collects information on campaign donors for each year in which a candidate or incumbent is running for election. The following table offers a breakdown of Dustin McDaniel's donors each year.[27] Click [show] for more information.

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After a highly-publicized divorce in 2007, McDaniel faced a small backlash from supporters who, having seen him put his family in front of the camera for posters and television advertisements, "believed he had a strong marriage and family values," and felt they had been misled.[28] McDaniel later got remarried to a woman named Bobbi McDaniel.

McDaniel's personal and public life collided once again in 2012, when his name was cited in the divorce proceedings of an attorney he met during his 2010 attorney general campaign. In December 2012, McDaniel confirmed in an interview with Talk Business to having had an “inappropriate relationship” with the woman, however he denied all other allegations made against him in the related court documents, and offered reassurance that his marriage to Bobbi McDaniel was going strong.[29][30]

McDaniel and his ex-wife share custody of their daughter, Emma Grace, and he now has two stepchildren, CJ and Alex Fowler through new wife Bobbi. McDaniel is a private pilot and self-described "avid hunter."[5]

Contact Information


Capitol Address:
Office of the Attorney General
323 Center Street, Suite 200
Little Rock, Arkansas 72201

Phone: (501) 682-2007
Toll Free Phone: (800) 482-8982

See also

External links

Suggest a link

The Internet Archive's Wayback Machine was used to recall this version of the website from February 17, 2010.


  1. Office of the AG, "Cyber Safety," accessed February 7, 2012 (dead link)
  2. Arkansas Office of the Attorney General, "About the AG," accessed February 7, 2012 (dead link)
  3. The Republic, "Arkansas attorney general announces bid for Democratic gubernatorial nomination in 2014," June 13, 2012
  4. 4.0 4.1 Arkansas Times, "McDaniel officially announces he's out of governor's race," accessed January 25, 2013
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Dustin McDaniel, "About Dustin," accessed February 7, 2012
  6. 6.0 6.1 The Library of Congress, "Bill Text 113th Congress (2013-2014) S.528.IS," March 12, 2013
  7. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named agsletter
  8. The Boston Globe, "Attorney generals to Congress: Don’t let for-profit colleges use federal grants and loans for advertising," March 17, 2013
  9. Commonwealth of Kentucky Office of the Attorney General, "Letter to Congress," March 11, 2013
  10. Office of the AG, "Cyber Safety," accessed February 7, 2012 (dead link)
  11. 11.0 11.1 The Courier, "Attorney general Crumbly made political threats over lines," May 9, 2012
  12. The Northwestern, "Ark. AG's office ads spark criticism from Lt. Gov.," March 5, 2012
  13. ACORN "Attorneys General Take Action: Real Leadership in Fighting Foreclosures" June 2008
  14. Majority in Mississippi, "Jim Hood Received An “A” From ACORN In 2008" 17 Sept. 2009
  15. The Tolbert Report, "Attorney General Dustin McDaniel’s Conflict of Interest (UPDATE) 31 Dec. 2008
  16. Arkansas Times, "McDaniel responds" 2 Jan. 2009
  17. Arkansas News Bureau, "McDaniel raises $1 million for governor’s race," October 15, 2012
  18. Arkansas Times, "McDaniel admits 'inappropriate interaction' with Hot Springs lawyer," December 18, 2013
  19. AR Elections - 2010 Preferential Primary Election and Non Partisan Judicial General Election
  20. Arkansas Secretary of State - 2010 General Election Results
  21. AR Elections - 2006 Preferential Primary and Non-Partisan Judicial General Election
  22. Even though Dustin McDaniel received the most votes, he failed to receive over fifty percent of those votes required by Arkansas state law. A runoff election between the top two vote recipients, therefore, was required to decide who went on to the general election.
  23. AR Elections - 2006 General Primary Runoff
  24. AR Elections - 2006 General Election and Non Partisan Judicial Runoff Election
  25. Follow The Money, "Career fundraising for Dustin McDaniel," accessed June 25, 2013
  26. 26.0 26.1 26.2 26.3 National Journal, "Embattled McDaniel Raises More Than $400,000" accessed January 16, 2013
  27. Follow the Money.org, "Home," accessed February 17, 2015
  28. Arkansas News, "The tragedy and politics of divorce" 3 April, 2007
  29. Politico, "Arkansas attorney general Dustin McDaniel admits inappropriate relations," December 19, 2012
  30. Talk Business.net, "Stars aligning for Mike Ross to reconsider running for governor," December 20, 2012

Political offices
Preceded by
Mike Beebe (D)
Arkansas Attorney General
Succeeded by
Leslie Rutledge (R)