Attorney General of Wisconsin

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Wisconsin Attorney General
General information
Office Type:  Partisan
Office website:  Official Link
2013 FY Budget:  $89,449,400
Term limits:  None
Length of term:   4 years
Authority:  Wisconsin State Code, Chapter 15.25
Selection Method:  Elected
Current Officeholder

Brad Schimel.jpg
Name:  Brad Schimel
Officeholder Party:  Republican
Assumed office:  January 5, 2015
Compensation:  $140,147
Next election:  November 6, 2018
Last election:  November 4, 2014
Other Wisconsin Executive Offices
GovernorLieutenant GovernorSecretary of StateAttorney GeneralTreasurerAuditorSuperintendent of EducationAgriculture CommissionerInsurance CommissionerNatural Resources CommissionerLabor CommissionerPublic Service Commission
The Attorney General of Wisconsin is an elected position in the Wisconsin state government. The attorney general is the head of the state Department of Justice and the chief legal officer for the state. He or she provides legal advice and representation for all state agencies.

Current officeholder

The current officeholder is Republican Brad Schimel. He was first elected in 2014, replacing two-term predecessor J.B. Van Hollen (R).


The attorney general's office is authorized by Chapter 15.25 of the Wisconsin state code.[1]

Chapter 15.25:

Department of justice; creation. There is created a department of justice under the direction and supervision of the attorney general.


There are no formal qualifications to hold this office.


Chapter 17.19(4) of the Wisconsin state code addresses vacancies in the office of attorney general. In the event of a vacancy for any reason, the governor shall appoint a successor to serve until a special election can be held. If no such election is held, the appointee holds office for the remainder of the unexpired term. [2]


The department of justice provides legal advice and representation for various state officers and agencies in civil cases and criminal cases in the state's appellate courts.[3]

The specific duties of the attorney general are outlined in Chapter 165.015 of the Wisconsin state code.

Chapter 165.015 - Duties. The attorney general shall:

  1. Give opinion to officers. Give his or her opinion in writing, when required, without fee, upon all questions of law submitted to him or her by the legislature, either house thereof or the senate or assembly committee on organization, or by the head of any department of state government.[4]
  2. Protect trust funds. Examine all applications for loans from any of the trust funds, and furnish to the commissioners of public lands his or her opinion in writing as to the regularity of each such application, and also of the validity of any bonds or other securities purchased for the benefit of such funds.[4]
  3. Certify bonds. Examine a certified copy of all proceedings preliminary to any issue of state bonds or notes, and, if found regular and valid, endorse on each bond or note his or her certificate of such examination and validity. The attorney general shall also make similar examinations and certificates respecting municipal bonds in the cases specified in s. 67.025.[4]
  4. Keep statement of fees. Keep a detailed statement of all fees, including his or her fees as commissioner of public lands, received by him or her during the preceding year, and file such statement with the department of administration on or before June 30 in each year.[4]
  5. Report to legislature. Upon request of the legislature or either house thereof, submit a report upon any matters pertaining to the duties of his or her office to the chief clerk of each house of the legislature, for distribution to the legislature under s. 13.172 (2).[4]
  6. Perform other duties. Perform all other duties imposed upon the attorney general by law.[4]


Wisconsin state government organizational chart

According to Article 6 of the state constitution, the attorney general is elected every four years, in mid-term election years, to a four-year term. In Wisconsin, the attorney general is elected in 2018, 2022 and 2026.

Full history


See also: Wisconsin attorney general election, 2014

Republican Brad Schimel won election on November 4, 2014.

Attorney General of Wisconsin, 2014
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngBrad Schimel 51.5% 1,211,388
     Democratic Susan Happ 45.4% 1,066,866
     Libertarian Thomas Nelson 3% 70,951
     Nonpartisan Scattering 0% 1,120
Total Votes 2,350,325
Election Results via Wisconsin Government Accountability Board.


The office of the attorney general is divided into four divisions and one office:

  • The Division of Criminal Investigation investigates crimes that are statewide in nature or of particular import.[3]
  • The Division of Law Enforcement Services provides technical assistance and training to state and local law enforcement agencies.[3]
  • The Division of Legal Services provides legal advice and representation to the governor, state legislature, other state officers and agencies, district attorneys, and county corporation counsels. The following specialized legal units are housed in this division:
  • Civil litigation
  • Criminal appeals
  • Criminal litigation, antitrust, consumer protection, and public integrity
  • Employment
  • Environmental protection
  • State programs, administration & revenue
  • Medicaid fraud control and elder abuse unit[3]
  • The Division of Management Services provides operational support to the department.[3]
  • The Office of Crime Victim Services provides assistance to victims and witnesses of crimes.[3]

State budget

See also: Wisconsin state budget and finances

The budget for the Department of Justice in Fiscal Year 2013 was $89,449,400.[5]


See also: Compensation of state executive officers

DocumentIcon.jpg See statutes: Chapter 20, Section 923 of the Wisconsin Statutes

The attorney general's annual salary is fixed by law, pursuant to Article IV, Section 26 of the Wisconsin Constitution, which states that "the compensation of a public officer may not be increased or diminished during the term of office."

Since the 2003 approval of Wisconsin Act 33, the attorney general's compensation has been set by the Wisconsin Office of State Employment Relations (OSER), in accordance with Section 20.923 of the Wisconsin Statutes.[6] Under the amended version of §20.923, the director of OSER submits biennial proposals for adjustments to compensation plan to the Wisconsin Legislature. Changes are subject to approval by the legislature's joint committee on employment relations and, if passed by the committee, the governor, although his veto power is limited. Effective for the four-year term beginning January 2015, the attorney general's salary was raised 2 percent over the prior term.[7]


In 2014, the attorney general received a salary of $140,147, according to the Council of State Governments.[8]


In 2013, the attorney general received a salary of $140,147.[9]


In 2012, the attorney geneal was paid an estimated $140,147. This figure comes from the Council of State Governments.

Historical officeholders

Since 1848, Wisconsin has had 43 attorneys general. Bronson C. LaFollette served twice, non-consecutively.

Click "show" for former officeholders.[10]

# Name Took office Left office Party
1 James S. Brown 1848 1850 Democratic
2 S. Park Coon 1850 1852 Democratic
3 Experience Estabrook 1852 1854 Democratic
4 George B. Smith 1854 1856 Democratic
5 William R. Smith 1856 1858 Democratic
6 Gabriel Bouck 1858 1860 Democratic
7 James H. Howe 1860 1862 Republican
8 Winfield Smith 1862 1866 Republican
9 Charles R. Gill 1866 1870 Republican
10 Stephen Steele Barlow 1870 1874 Republican
11 Andrew Scott Sloan 1874 1878 Republican
12 Alexander Wilson 1878 1882 Republican
13 Leander F. Frisby 1882 1887 Republican
14 Charles E. Estabrook 1887 1891 Republican
15 James L. O'Connor 1891 1895 Democratic
16 William H. Mylrea 1895 1899 Republican
17 Emmett R. Hicks 1899 1903 Republican
18 Lafayette M. Sturdevant 1903 1907 Republican
19 Frank L. Gilbert 1907 1911 Republican
20 Levi H. Bancroft 1911 1913 Republican
21 Walter C. Owen 1913 1918 Republican
22 Spencer Haven 1918 1919 Republican
23 John J. Blaine 1919 1921 Republican
24 William J. Morgan 1921 1923 Republican
25 Herman L. Ekern 1923 1927 Republican
26 John W. Reynolds 1927 1933 Republican
27 James E. Finnegan 1933 1937 Democratic
28 Orlando S. Loomis 1937 1939 Progressive
29 John E. Martin 1939 June 1, 1948 Republican
30 Grover L. Broadfoot June 5, 1948 November 12, 1948 Republican
31 Thomas E. Fairchild November 12, 1948 1951 Democratic
32 Vernon W. Thomson 1951 1957 Republican
33 Stewart G. Honeck 1957 1959 Republican
34 John W. Reynolds 1958 1963 Democratic
35 George Thompson 1963 1965 Republican
36 Bronson C. LaFollette 1965 1969 Democratic
37 Robert W. Warren 1969 October 8, 1974 Republican
38 Victor A. Miller October 8, 1974 November 25, 1974 Democratic
39 Bronson C. LaFollette November 25, 1974 1987 Democratic
40 Donald J. Hanaway 1987 1991 Republican
41 James E. Doyle 1991 2002 Democratic
42 Peg A. Lautenschlager 2002 2006 Democratic
43 J.B. Van Hollen 2006 2014 Republican
44 Brad Schimel 2015 Present Republican

State profile

Wisconsin's population in 2013 was 5,742,713.

Wisconsin's population in 2013 was 5,742,713 according to the United States Census Bureau. This estimate represented a 1 percent change from the bureau's 2010 estimate. The state's population per square mile was 105 in 2010, exceeding the national average of 87.4. Wisconsin experienced a 1.5 percent increase in total employment from 2011 to 2012 based on census data, falling below a 2.2 percent increase at the national level during the same period.[11]


Wisconsin fell below the national average for residents who attained at least bachelor's degrees based on census data from 2009 to 2013. The United States Census Bureau found that 26.8 percent of Wisconsin residents aged 25 years and older attained bachelor's degrees compared to 28.8 percent at the national level. The median household income in Wisconsin was $52,413 between 2009 and 2013 compared to a $53,046 national median income. Census information showed a 13.5 percent poverty rate in Wisconsin during the study period compared to a 14.5 percent national poverty rate.[11]

Racial Demographics, 2013[11]
Race Wisconsin (%) United States (%)
White 88.1 77.7
Black or African American 6.5 13.2
American Indian and Alaska Native 1.1 1.2
Asian 2.5 5.3
Two or More Races 1.7 2.4
Hispanic or Latino 6.3 17.1

Presidential Voting Pattern, 2000-2012[12][13]
Year Democratic vote in Wisconsin (%) Republican vote in Wisconsin (%) Democratic vote in U.S. (%) Republican vote in U.S. (%)
2012 52.8 45.9 51.1 47.2
2008 56.2 42.3 52.9 45.7
2004 49.7 49.3 48.3 50.7
2000 47.8 47.6 48.4 47.9

Note: The United States Census Bureau considers "Hispanic or Latino" to be a place of origin rather than a race. Citizens may report both their race and their place of origin, and as a result, the percentages in each column of the racial demographics table may exceed 100 percent.[14][15]

Recent news

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

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Contact information


Wisconsin Department of Justice
P.O. Box 7857
Madison, WI 53707-7857

Phone: 608-266-1221
Fax: 608-267-2779

See also

External links

Suggest a link


  1. Wisconsin state code, "Chapter 15: Structure of the Executive Branch (page 18)," accessed August 25, 2011
  2. Wisconsin state code, "Chapter 17: Resignations, vacancies, and removals from office (page 7)," accessed August 25, 2011
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Wisconsin Department of Justice, "Agency division/bureau descriptions," accessed August 25, 2011
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 Wisconsin state code, "Chapter 165: Department of Justice (page 1)," accessed August 25, 2011
  5. Wisconsin Department of Administration, "2013-15 Executive Budget - Department of Justice," accessed April 3, 2013
  6. Wisconsin State Legislature, "Wisconsin Statutes: 20.923(2)(a)," accessed February 25, 2015
  7. Wisconsin Legislature, "Wisconsin Briefs from the Legislative Reference Bureau: SALARIES OF STATE ELECTED OFFICIALS EFFECTIVE JANUARY 2015," updated January 2015
  8. Council of State Governments, "SELECTED STATE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICIALS: ANNUAL SALARIES," accessed December 8, 2014
  9. Council of State Governments, Table 4.11 Selected State Administrative Officials: Annual Salaries," accessed January 31, 2014
  10. Wisconsin Blue Book 2005-2006, "Highlights of History in Wisconsin," accessed January 5, 2015
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 United States Census Bureau, "QuickFacts Beta," accessed March 24, 2015
  12. Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, "Wisconsin Election Results," accessed March 24, 2015
  13. The American Presidency Project, "Presidential Elections Data," accessed March 24, 2015
  14. United States Census Bureau, "Frequently Asked Questions," accessed April 21, 2014
  15. Each column will add up to 100 percent after removing the "Hispanic or Latino" place of origin percentages, although rounding by the Census Bureau may make the total one- or two-tenths off from being exactly 100 percent. This Ballotpedia page provides a more detailed explanation of how the Census Bureau handles race and ethnicity in its surveys.