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Roy Cooper

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Roy Cooper
Roy Cooper.jpg
Attorney General of North Carolina
In office
Term ends
Years in position 14
PredecessorMichael Easley (D)
Base salary$124,676
Elections and appointments
Last electionNovember 6, 2012
First electedNovember 7, 2000
Next generalNovember 8. 2016
Campaign $$7,116,383
Term limitsNone
Prior offices
North Carolina State Senate
North Carolina House of Representatives
Bachelor'sUniversity of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (1979)
J.D.University of North Carolina School of Law (1982)
Date of birthJune 13, 1957
Place of birthNash County, North Carolina
Office website
Campaign website
Roy A. Cooper, III (born June 13, 1957, in Nash County, North Carolina) is the current Attorney General of North Carolina. A Democrat, he first won election to the office in 2000 and has subsequently been re-elected three times. In his most recent election on November 6, 2012, Cooper ran unopposed. He was also unopposed in the primary.[1]

Among his initiatives since taking office, Cooper has increased DNA testing of crime scene evidence, pushed for tougher sentences for child predators and pornographers, and mandated sex offenders report where they live.[1]

In 2013, Cooper voiced his opposition to proposed legislation to require voters to show ID. Cooper wrote to Gov. Pat McCrory (R), asking him to veto the law which he said would just make it harder to citizens to vote. Cooper also said he expected the law to be challenged in court.[2]

Prior to becoming Attorney General, Cooper was a member of the North Carolina House of Representatives from 1987-1991, and the North Carolina State Senate from 1991-2001.[3]


Cooper was born and raised in North Carolina. He attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for his undergraduate education, earning two Bachelor's degrees, in psychology and political science. Immediately following graduation in 1979, Cooper entered law school at the University of North Carolina School of Law.

Prior to receiving his law degree, Cooper was appointed by then-Governor Jim Hunt to the state Goals and Policy Board in 1980. Upon graduating from UNC School of Law, he joined the family law firm, Fields and Cooper, as an attorney specializing in civil suits, personal injury cases and insurance defense. Some of his other current and former roles include:

  • Instructor, Continuing Legal Education
  • Sunday School Teacher/Deacon, First Presbyterian Church
  • Chair, Local Morehead Scholarship Selection Committee
  • Chair, March of Dimes Annual Fundraiser
  • Member, North Carolina Bar Association
  • Board of Directors, North Carolinians for Community Colleges
  • Former Board Member, United Way Visions, Incorporated


  • Bachelor's degree, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (1979) in psychology and political science
  • Juris Doctorate degree, University of North Carolina School of Law (1982)

Political career

North Carolina Attorney General (2000-Present)

Cooper's first race for North Carolina Attorney General had him outspending his Republican opponent, Dan Boyce, four-to-one and airing attack advertisements claiming that Boyce had overbilled in a class-action lawsuit against the state. He easily won re-election to the office in both 2004 and 2008. Prior to his announcement that would campaign for a third term as Attorney General, Cooper was considered a potential Democratic candidate to run for governor; ultimately he declined the offer.

Protecting Financial Aid for Students and Taxpayers Act

On March 11, 2013, Cooper, 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.[4] 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.”[5] 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."[4]

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.”[6] There are an estimated 3,000 for-profit schools nationwide, though neither the letter nor the bill cited the name of a specific institution.[7]

Notable cases

Two cases Cooper took up late in his second term received national attention. The first was his decision to allow a retrial of former death row inmate Alan Gell who in 1995 had been convicted of the first-degree murder of Allen Ray Jenkins. Gell was acquitted of all charges in February 2004. Nearly two years after he released, Gell plead guilty to statutory rape of his fifteen year old girlfriend and possession of cocaine.[8] The other notable case came in January 2007 when, after Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong recused himself, Cooper's office was given the responsibility of dealing with the Duke Lacrosse Team falsely accused of rape. Ultimately, four months later, Cooper chose to dismiss all charges.

False attack advertisement

Dan Boyce, the Republican candidate for North Carolina Attorney General in 2000, claimed his name had been falsely slandered by Cooper's campaign when he ran a television advertisement that accused Boyce of having overbilled in a class-action lawsuit against the state. He filed suit against Cooper the day before the election was held. After years of bouncing around the United States court system, Judge W. Osmond Smith III from the Wake County Superior Court finally ordered in 2009 the case be brought to trial.[9]

North Carolina Legislature (1987-2000)

Cooper first entered the state political arena in 1986 when he was elected to the North Carolina House of Representatives. Four years later, he became a member of the North Carolina Senate where he served as chairman of both the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Senate Ethics Committee. In 1997, he chosen by his colleagues as the Democratic Majority Leader.



On October 5, 2013, Cooper announced he is planning to run for governor in 2016.[10]


See also: North Carolina attorney general election, 2012

Cooper sought and won a 4th term as attorney general in the 2012 election. He ran unopposed.

Attorney General of North Carolina General Election, 2012
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngRoy Cooper Incumbent 100% 2,828,941
Total Votes 2,828,941
Election Results via NC State Board of Elections.


  • Equality NC Action Fund[11]


In the 2008 race for Attorney General, Cooper defeated Republican Bob Crumley. Cooper ran unopposed in the Democratic primary.

Attorney General, 2008
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngRoy Cooper 61.1% 2,538,065
     Republican Bob Crumley 38.9% 1,615,718
Total Votes 4,153,783


In the 2004 Race for Attorney General, Cooper defeated Republican Joe Knott. Cooper was unopposed in the Democratic primary.

Attorney General, 2004
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngRoy Cooper 55.6% 1,872,097
     Republican Joe Knott 44.4% 1,494,121
Total Votes 3,366,218


Cooper first won election as North Carolina Attorney General in 2000, defeating Republican Dan Boyce and Reform Party candidate Margaret Palms.

Attorney General, 2000
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngRoy Cooper 51.2% 1,446,793
     Republican Dan Boyce 46.4% 1,310,845
     Reform Party Margaret Palms 2.4% 67,536
Total Votes 2,825,174

Campaign donors

Comprehensive donor information for Cooper is available dating back to 1996. Based on available campaign finance records, Cooper raised a total of $7,116,383 during that time period. This information was last updated on May 20, 2013.[12]

Roy Cooper's Campaign Contribution History
Year Office Result Contributions
2012 NC Attorney General Won $583,287
2010 NC Attorney General Not up for election $96,916
2008 NC Attorney General Won $1,298,744
2006 NC Attorney General Not up for election $1,199,702
2004 NC Attorney General Won $1,574,350
2000 NC Attorney General Won $2,137,985
1998 NC State Senate Won $132,506
1996 NC State Senate Won $92,893
Grand Total Raised $7,116,383


Cooper won re-election to the position of North Carolina Attorney General in 2012. During that election cycle, Cooper raised a total of $583,287.


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 Roy Cooper's donors each year.[13] Click [show] for more information.

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Cooper currently resides in Rocky Mount, North Carolina with his wife, Kristin. The couple has had three daughters together - Hilary, Natalie, and Claire.

Contact Information

North Carolina

Capitol Address:
Attorney General’s Office
9001 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-9001

Phone: (919) 716-6400
Fax: (919) 716-6750

See also

External links

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Political offices
Preceded by
Mike Easley (D)
North Carolina Attorney General
Succeeded by