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Attorney General of Colorado

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Colorado Attorney General
General information
Office Type:  Partisan
Office website:  Official Link
2012-2013 FY Budget:  $57,251,130
Term limits:  2 consecutive terms
Structure
Length of term:   4 years
Authority:  80,000
Selection Method:  Elected
Current Officeholder

John Suthers.jpg
Name:  John W. Suthers
Officeholder Party:  Republican
Assumed office:  2005
Compensation:  $80,000
Other Colorado Executive Offices
GovernorLieutenant GovernorSecretary of StateAttorney GeneralTreasurerControllerCommissioner of EducationAgriculture CommissionerInsurance CommissionerNatural Resources Exec. Director
The Attorney General of Colorado is one of four independently elected statewide offices in Colorado and was established by the state constitution in 1876. The attorney general is the head of the state's Department of Law and acts as the state's chief legal counsel and chief law officer. According to the office's official website, the attorney general "represents and defends the legal interests of the people of the State of Colorado and its sovereignty."[1]

The position has primary authority for enforcement of consumer protection and antitrust laws, prosecution of criminal appeals and some complex white-collar crimes, the statewide grand jury, training and certification of peace officers, and certain natural resource and environmental matters.[1]

Current officeholder

The current attorney general is John W. Suthers, a Republican. Suthers acceded to the office on January 4, 2005 following the departure of Ken Salazar, who resigned to take his seat as a U.S. Senator from Colorado. He was elected to a full term in November 2006 and was re-elected in 2010. Suthers's second term will end in January 2015, at which point he will be constitutionally term-limited out of office.

Before becoming attorney general, Suthers served from July 2001 to January 2005 as U.S. Attorney for Colorado. He was executive director of the Colorado Department of Corrections from 1999 to 2001 and senior counsel at the Colorado Springs, CO firm of Sparks Dix, P.C. from 1997 to 1999. Additionally, Suthers was district attorney for Colorado's 4th Judicial District from 1988 to 1997. He and his wife of 35 years, Janet, have two daughters.[2]

Authority

The state constitution establishes the office of attorney general in Article IV, the Executive Department.

Colorado Constitution, Article IV, Section 1

(1) The executive department shall include the governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, state treasurer, and attorney general, each of whom shall hold his office for the term of four years, commencing on the second Tuesday of January in the year 1967, and each fourth year thereafter. They shall perform such duties as are prescribed by this constitution or by law.

Qualifications

The attorney general must be at least 25 years old and an attorney in good standing licensed by the Colorado Supreme Court. Additionally, he must be a citizen of the United States and have been a Colorado resident for at least two years prior to election.

Colorado Constitution, Article IV, Section 4

No person shall be eligible to the office of... attorney general unless he shall have attained the age of twenty­five years and be a licensed attorney of the supreme court of the state in good standing, and no person shall be eligible to any one of said offices unless, in addition to the qualifications above prescribed therefore, he shall be a citizen of the United States, and have resided within the limits of the state two years next preceding his election.

Elections

Attorneys general are elected to four year terms during federal midterm election years (2006, 2010, 2014, etc.). The candidate that earns a plurality of the votes is the winner, and, per Article IV, Section 1 of the state constitution, he assumes office on the second Tuesday of January in the year following his election.

Colorado Constitution, Article IV, Section 1

(1) The executive department shall include the governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, state treasurer, and attorney general, each of whom shall hold his office for the term of four years, commencing on the second Tuesday of January in the year 1967, and each fourth year thereafter.

Term limits

Per the Colorado Term Limits Amendment, Issue 5 (1990), attorneys general, like all statewide constitutional officers, are limited to two consecutive terms in office. Former officeholders may run again after one term out of office. Serving more than one half of a term as an appointed replacement as attorney general counts as a full term.

Vacancies

If the office of attorney general becomes vacant, the governor appoints a replacement with the consent of the Senate. The replacement serves until the next election. If the vacancy occurs while the Senate is out of session, the appointee serves until it can meet.

Colorado Constitution, Article IV, Section 6

(2) If the office of state treasurer, secretary of state, or attorney general shall be vacated by death, resignation, or otherwise, the governor shall nominate and, by and with the consent of the senate, appoint a successor. The appointee shall hold the office until his successor shall be elected and qualified in such manner as may be provided by law. If the vacancy occurs in any such office while the senate is not in session, the governor shall appoint some fit person to discharge the duties thereof until the next meeting of the senate, when he shall nominate and, by and with the consent of the senate, appoint some fit person to fill such office.

Duties

The attorney general heads the Colorado Department of Law and is charged with acting as the "legal counsel and advisor ... of the state government,"[3] enforcing the criminal laws of the state in cooperation with district attorneys, and "[representing] and [defending] the legal interests of the people of the State of Colorado."[1] The attorney general, according to its official website, has primary authority for "enforcement of consumer protection and antitrust laws, prosecution of criminal appeals and some complex white-collar crimes, the Statewide Grand Jury, training and certification of peace officers, and certain natural resource and environmental matters." Additionally, the attorney general may be required by the governor to participate in civil or criminal cases in which the state has an interest.

As of July 2011, the attorney general's office runs a variety of initiatives to reduce types of crime or assist victims; examples include the Charity Fraud Mail Sweep, the Methamphetamine Task Force, and the Safe Surfing Initiative, which seeks to protect children from internet sexual abuse. These initiatives demonstrate the attorney general's powers to make policy in addition to prosecuting cases and issuing advisory opinions.

Divisions

  • Attorney General's Office
  • Administration
  • Business and Licensing
  • Civil Litigation and Employment Law
  • Consumer Protection
  • Criminal Justice
  • Natural Resources
  • State Services[4]

State budget

The budget for the Colorado Department of Law in the 2012-2013 Fiscal Year was $57,251,130.[5]

Compensation

In 2012, the attorney general received compensation in the amount of $80,000.[6] The attorney general's salary, like that of all state constitutional officers, is determined by law and changes in it do not take effect until the current officeholder's term ends.

Historical officeholders

Note: Ballotpedia's state executive officials project researches state official websites for chronological lists of historical officeholders. That information for the Attorney General of Colorado has not yet been added because the information was unavailable on the relevant state official websites, or we are currently in the process of formatting the list for this office. If you have any additional information about this office for inclusion on this section and/or page, please email us.

Recent news

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Attorney General of Colorado News Feed

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Contact information

Address: Colorado Attorney General
1525 Sherman Street, 7th Floor
Denver, CO 80203

Phone: 303-866-4500
Fax: 303-866-5691
E-mail: attorney.general@state.co.us

See also

External links

References