Attorney General of Virginia

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Virginia Attorney General
General information
Office Type:  Partisan
Office website:  Official Link
2012 FY Budget:  $35,660,544
Term limits:  None
Length of term:   4 years
Authority:  Virginia Constitution, Article 5, Section 16
Selection Method:  Elected
Current Officeholder

Mark Herring.jpg
Name:  Mark Herring
Officeholder Party:  Democratic
Assumed office:  January 11, 2014
Compensation:  $150,000
Next election:  November 7, 2017
Last election:  November 5, 2013
Other Virginia Executive Offices
GovernorLieutenant GovernorSecretary of StateAttorney GeneralTreasurerAuditorSuperintendent of EducationAgriculture CommissionerInsurance CommissionerNatural Resources CommissionerLabor CommissionerPublic Service Commission
The Attorney General of Virginia is a publicly elected executive official in the Virginia state government. The attorney general provides legal advice and representation for all state agencies. Additionally, the attorney general provides written legal advice in the form of official opinions to members of the Virginia General Assembly and government officials.

Current officeholder

The current officeholder is Democrat Mark Herring. He was first elected in 2013 and was sworn in January 11, 2014.


The office of attorney general is established in Article 5, Section 16 of the Virginia Constitution.

Article X, Section Y:

An Attorney General shall be elected by the qualified voters of the Commonwealth at the same time and for the same term as the Governor; and the fact of his election shall be ascertained in the same manner...


Article V, Section 16 of the Virginia Constitution also establishes the qualifications of the office:

...No person shall be eligible for election or appointment to the office of Attorney General unless he is a citizen of the United States, has attained the age of thirty years, and has the qualifications required for a judge of a court of record...
  • U.S. citizen
  • at least 30 years old
  • is qualified to be a judge of a court of record in the state


In the event of a vacancy in the office, the governor shall fill the vacancy by appointment. The appointee shall hold office until the next general election.


The duties and powers of the office of the attorney general include:[1]

  • Provide legal advice and representation to the governor and executive agencies, state boards and commissions and institutions of higher education. The advice commonly includes help with personnel issues, contracts, purchasing, regulatory and real estate matters and the review of proposed legislation. The office also represents those agencies in court.
  • Provide written legal advice in the form of official opinions to members of the general assembly and government officials.
  • Defend criminal convictions on appeal and defend the state when prisoners sue concerning their incarceration.
  • Defend the constitutionality of state laws when they are challenged in court.
  • Enforce state laws that protect businesses and consumers when there are violations. Individual consumer complaints are usually handled by another agency.
  • Represent consumers in utility matters before the Virginia Corporation Commission.
  • Collect debts owed to state agencies, hospitals and universities.
  • Conduct or assist criminal investigations and prosecutions in certain limited cases (for example Medicaid fraud, money laundering, theft of state property, environmental crimes and computer crimes).
  • Represent the Virginia Department of Social Services in its efforts to collect child support on behalf of children and families.
  • Supervise the appointment and payment of private attorneys hired by other state agencies for various matters.
  • Assist victims of crime who are following criminal cases at the appellate level.
  • Provide information to the public on identity theft prevention and remediation.
  • Administer grants to help reduce crimes involving gangs, drugs and sex predators.
  • Administer the Virginia Sexually Violent Predator Civil Commitment Program to protect children from the most dangerous predators.

A complete list of the duties of the office is outlined in the Virginia state code.[2]


Virginia state government organizational chart

The attorney general is elected every four years at the same time the governor is elected. These elections take place one year after the presidential elections. In Virginia, 2017, 2021 and 2025 are all election years for the attorney general.[3]

Term limits

According to the state constitution, "There shall be no limit on the terms of the Attorney General."[4]

Full history

Campaign finance

Main article: Campaign finance requirements for Virginia ballot measures

In Virginia, the State Attorney General is responsible for all disciplinary matters of the state's campaign finance laws. The first step in filing a complaint is to file with the Virginia Board of Elections. The Board of Elections refers all campaign finance complaints to the Virginia Attorney General for prosecution.[5]


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 Virginia 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: Virginia state budget and finances

The budget for the Attorney General's Office and the Department of Law in Fiscal Year 2012 was $35,660,544.[6]


See also: Compensation of state executive officers

The attorney general's annual salary is set by law, pursuant to Article V, Section 15 of the Virginia Constitution:

The Attorney General...shall receive such compensation as may be prescribed by law, which compensation shall neither be increased nor diminished during the period for which he shall have been elected.


In 2014, the attorney general received a salary of $150,000, according to the Council of State Governments.[7]


In 2013, the attorney general was paid an estimated $150,000. This figure comes from the Council of State Governments.[8]


In 2011, the attorney general was paid an estimated $150,000, according to the Council of State Governments.[9]

Historical officeholders

Commonwealth attorneys general (1869-present)

There have been 37 Attorney Generals of Virginia since 1869. Of the 37 officeholders, 11 were Republican, 22 were Democrat, three were Conservatives and one was Readjuster.[10]

List of Former Officeholders from 1869-Present
# Name Tenure Party
1 Charles Whittlesey 1869–1870 Ends.png Republican
2 James Craig Taylor 1870-1874 Conservative PartyConservative
3 Raleigh Travers Daniel 1874–1877 Conservative PartyConservative
4 James Gavin Field 1877-1882 Conservative PartyConservative
5 Francis Simpson Blair 1882–1886 Readjuster
6 Rufus Adolphus Ayers 1886– 1890 Electiondot.png Democratic
7 Robert Taylor Scott 1890–1897 Electiondot.png Democratic
8 Richard Carter Scott 1897-1898 Electiondot.png Democratic
9 Andrew Jackson Montague 1898– 1902 Electiondot.png Democratic
10 William Alexander Anderson 1902– 1910 Electiondot.png Democratic
11 Samuel Walker Williams 1910–1914 Electiondot.png Democratic
12 John Garland Pollard 1914–1918 Electiondot.png Democratic
13 Josiah Dickenson Hank Jr 1918 Electiondot.png Democratic
14 John Richard Saunders 1918–1934 Electiondot.png Democratic
15 Abram Penn 1934-1947 Electiondot.png Democratic
16 Harvey Black Apperson 1947-1948 Electiondot.png Democratic
17 James Lindsay Almond Jr 1948-1957 Electiondot.png Democratic
18 Kenneth Cartright Patty 1957-1958 Electiondot.png Democratic
19 Albertis Sydney Harrison Jr 1958–1961 Electiondot.png Democratic
20 Frederick Thomas Gray 1961- 1962 Electiondot.png Democratic
21 Robert Young Button 1962–1970 Electiondot.png Democratic
22 Andrew Pickens Miller 1970–1977 Electiondot.png Democratic
23 Anthony Francis Troy 1977-1978 Electiondot.png Democratic
24 John Marshall Coleman 1978–1982 Ends.png Republican
25 Gerald Lee Baliles 1982–1985 Electiondot.png Democratic
26 William Gray Broaddus 1985-1986 Electiondot.png Democratic
27 Mary Sue Terry 1986–1993 Electiondot.png Democratic
28 Stephen Douglas Rosenthal 1993-1994 Electiondot.png Democratic
29 James Stuart Gilmore III 1994–1997 Ends.png Republican
30 Richard Cullen 1997-1998 Ends.png Republican
31 Mark Lawrence Earley 1998-2001 Ends.png Republican
32 Randolph Allen Beales 2001-2002 Ends.png Republican
33 Jerry Walter Kilgore 2002–2005 Ends.png Republican
34 Judith Williams Jagdmann 2005-2006 Ends.png Republican
35 Robert Francis McDonnell 2006–2009 Ends.png Republican
36 William Cleveland Mims 2009-2010 Ends.png Republican
37 Kenneth Thomas Cuccinelli 2010–2014 Ends.png Republican
37 Mark Herring 2014–present Electiondot.png Democratic

Civil War attorneys general (1861-1869)

Secession government (1861-1865)

John Randolph Tucker was the Democratic attorney general from 1861 to 1865, when Virginia had succeeded in the Civil War.[10]

Restored government (1865-1865)

The era from when the Virginia rejoined the Union states and the end of the Civil War is known as the Restored Government of Virginia. There were two attorneys general in this era: Republican James S. Wheat (1861-1862) and Unionist/Republican Thomas Russell Bowden (1863-1869). Bowden served past the end of the Restored Government.[10]

Commonwealth attorneys general (1776-1857)

There were eight Attorneys General of Virginia between 1776-1857.[10]

List of Former Officeholders from 1776-1857
# Name Tenure Party
1 Edmund Randolph 1776-1786
2 James Innes 1786-1796
3 John Marshall 1794-1795
4 Robert Brooke 1796-1800 Democratic-Republican
5 Philip Norborne Nicholas 1800- 1819 Democratic-Republican
6 John Robertson 1819-1834
7 Sidney Smith Baxter 1834-1852 Electiondot.png Democratic
8 Willis Perry Bocock 1852- 1857 Electiondot.png Democratic

Recent news

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

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Contact information


Office of the Attorney General
900 East Main Street
Richmond, VA 23219

Phone: 804-786-2071

See also

External links

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