Difference between revisions of "Bill Sorrell"

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|party = Democratic
|party = Democratic
|total raised = 189099
|total raised = 189099
|total votes = 164441
|org1 = Daga Inc
|org1 = Daga Inc
|org2 = Jim & Micaela Wallace
|org2 = Jim & Micaela Wallace

Revision as of 14:43, 27 June 2013

William H. Sorrell
Bill Sorrell.jpg
Attorney General of Vermont
In office
May 1997 - Present
Term ends
Years in position 17
PredecessorJeffrey Amestoy
Base salary$108,202
Elections and appointments
Last electionNovember 6, 2012
First electedNovember 3, 1998
Next generalNovember 4, 2014
Campaign $$299,540
AppointedMay 1997
Appointed byGovernor of Vermont
Term limitsN/A
Prior offices
Chittenden County State's Attorney
Bachelor'sUniversity of Notre Dame (1970)
J.D.Cornell Law School (1974)
BirthdayMarch 9, 1947
Place of birthBurlington, VT
Office website
Personal website
Campaign website
William H. Sorrell (born March 9, 1947, in Burlington, Vermont) is the current Democratic Attorney General of Vermont. He was originally appointed to the position by then-Governor Howard Dean in 1997 and has subsequently won re-election every two years. He was most recently re-elected on November 6, 2012.

Sorrell is the longest serving attorney general in the history of Vermont. He has easily won re-election each time, with his smallest share of the vote coming in 2004 when he earned just below 58 percent.[1]

Sorrell served as President of the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) from June 2004 to June 2005.[2]

Sorrell is eligible to run for re-election as Vermont Attorney General in 2014. He has not yet made his intentions in the race known.


Sorrell first entered the Vermont political stage in 1975 when he served two years as Chittenden County Deputy State's Attorney. He then became Chittenden County State's Attorney for a year before working at a private law practice called McNeil, Murray & Sorrell from 1978 to 1989. Sorrell returned to the position of State's Attorney, serving in the position for three years. He became the state's Secretary of Administration in 1992, retaining the office until his appointment to Attorney General Office in 1997.

Throughout his career, Sorrell has served in several other roles, including, but not limited to:

  • President, National Association of Attorneys General (2004-2005)
  • Board Member, American Legacy Foundation
  • President, United Cerebral Palsy of Vermont
  • Secretary, Vermont Coalition of the Handicapped
  • Vermont Judicial Nominating Board
  • Board Member, Winooski Valley Park District


  • Bachelor's degree, University of Notre Dame (1970)
  • Juris Doctorate degree, Cornell Law School (1974)

Political career

Attorney General (1997-present)

Vermont's Democratic attorney general was first appointed by former Gov. Howard Dean in 1997. Sorrell, who served two terms as Chittenden County Attorney State's attorney prior to taking office as the Vermont's top law enforcement official, has won re-election, without serious contest, since his initial appointment. Sorrell is the longest-serving AG in the state's history.[3]

Randall v. Sorrell (2006)

In 1997, the Vermont State Legislature passed a campaign finance measure, Act 64, "which imposed strict limits both on expenditures by candidates for office during the election cycle and on the contributions of individuals, political groups, and parties." State legislator Neil Randall sued Attorney General Sorrell, arguing that the law was unconstitutional on the basis that it infringed on his First Amendment right to Freedom of Speech and thus should be struck down. Sorrell, on the other hand, insisted that "Vermont's interests in combating corruption and ensuring fair elections justified the contribution limits."

In a six-to-three decision delivered on June 26, 2006, the opinion of the Supreme Court, delivered by Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer, invalidated Act 64's expenditure limits. While admitting that some limits placed on how much in contributions political candidates can ultimately receive, the Court "perceived 'danger signs' indicating that Vermont's exceptionally low limits could prevent candidates from campaigning effectively." [4]


Sorrell is a proponent of the decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana. In 2013 he stated, “Among the reasons for [my] support are that Vermont has approved marijuana for medical usage and that Washington and Colorado have now legalized the drug. A criminal conviction for possession of a small amount of marijuana can have very harmful impacts on a person’s employability and eligibility for certain governmental benefits.”[5]


CEI rating

In an analysis of state attorneys general published in July 2010, Sorrell was named "The Nation's Sixth Worst Attorney General" by the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), a non-profit public policy organization dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited government. Basing their criteria on ethical breaches/selective application of the law, fabricating law, usurping legislative power, and predatory practices, the Vermont Attorney General, who at the time of the publication faced re-election in November 2010, received a letter grade of F in the last two categories; he narrowly missed acquiring the failing mark when it came to fabricating law, securing a letter grade of D-, and was given a middling letter grade of C- in the initial grouping. Sorrell was blasted by the CEI as "having done more damage to the fabric of the law" then any other state attorney general in the country. [6]



See also: Vermont attorney general election, 2014

Sorrell is eligible to run for re-election as Vermont Attorney General in 2014. He has not yet made his intentions in the race known.


See also: Vermont attorney general election, 2012

Sorrell defeated Chittenden County State's Attorney T.J. Donovan in the Democratic primary contest on August 28, 2012.[7] He went on to defeat three challengers in the general election on November 6, 2012: Jack McMullen (R), Ed Stanak (Progressive), and Rosemarie Jackowski (Liberty Union).[8][9]

Attorney General of Vermont General Election, 2012
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngBill Sorrell Incumbent 57.9% 164,441
     Republican Jack McMullen 33.3% 94,588
     Progressive Ed Stanak 5.5% 15,629
     Liberty Union Rosemarie Jackowski 3% 8,533
     Independent Write-in 0.2% 588
Total Votes 283,779
Election Results via Vermont Secretary of State.

  • Primary
Vermont Attorney General Democratic Primary, 2012
Candidate Vote % Votes
Green check mark transparent.pngBill Sorrell Incumbent 50.8% 21,124
T.J. Donovan 49.1% 20,410
Write-in 0.2% 66
Total Votes 41,600
Election Results Via:Vermont Secretary of State.


  • Marijuana

In a July interview with The Journal, Sorrell commented on his stance on marijuana law enforcement, in light of the attention the issue had attracted since Donovan's emergence as a decisively pro-decriminalization candidate. "The nuance for me, as the state's chief law enforcement officer, is to just make clear that, no matter what the Vermont Legislature does, it will remain a violation of federal law, and Vermonters shouldn't think that because of what the state legislature has done, that all of a sudden, essentially marijuana has been legalized in the state and you can do what you want," Sorrell said. He said he was personally in favor of decriminalization, but that he "didn't want to send the wrong message."[10]


Former Democratic Govs. Howard Dean and Madeleine Kuninfour and senators formally endorsed Sorrell, citing his past successes in making Vermont “a national leader on public health matters” and environmental protection.[11]

On May 12, the Vermont Democratic Party State Committee endorsed Sorrell's Democratic primary opponent, T.J. Donovan. The Committee, which comprises 28 voting members, is allowed to endorse more than one candidate, and the vast majority of state party members and operatives expected it would extend dual support to Sorrell in the following weeks.[12] Then, on July 21, the Committee announced that Sorrell had failed to receive the requisite two-thirds majority vote, and would therefore not receive its endorsement. The announcement left many committee members "stunned,"[13] given the long-serving AG's solid Democratic credentials, which Donovan publicly affirmed.[13] According to some committee voters, the snub may have resulted from Sorrell's inadequate communication and lobbying efforts with the party throughout the campaign to that point.[14]


See also: Vermont Attorney General election, 2010
  • 2010 Race for Attorney General - Democratic Primary
  • Bill Sorrell ran unopposed in this contest
2010 Race for Attorney General - General Election [16]
Party Candidate Vote Percentage
     Democratic Party Approveda Bill Sorrell 61.9%
     Republican Party Aaron Toscano 29.4%
     Progressive Party Charlotte Dennett 4.4%
     Libertarian Party Karen Kerin 2.7%
     Liberty Union Rosemarie Jackowski 1.5%
Total Votes 230,973


  • William H. Sorrell ran unopposed in this contest
2006 Race for Attorney General - General Election [18]
Party Candidate Vote Percentage
     Democratic Party Approveda Bill Sorrell 69.3%
     Republican Party Dennis Carver 27.0%
     Liberty Union Rosemarie Jackowski 3.5%
     Write-In 0.1%
Total Votes 250,300


  • William H. Sorrell ran unopposed in this contest
2002 Race for Attorney General - General Election [20]
Party Candidate Vote Percentage
     Democratic Party Approveda Bill Sorrell 56.6%
     Republican Party Larry Down 30.4%
     Progressive Party Cindy Hill 7.3%
     Vermont Grassroots Sandy Ward 2.9%
     Liberty Union Boots Wardinski 1.0%
Total Votes 221,679


  • William H. Sorrell ran unopposed in this contest
1998 Race for Attorney General - General Election [22]
Party Candidate Vote Percentage
     Democratic Party Approveda Bill Sorrell 83.8%
     Vermont Grassroots Sandy Ward 8.8%
     Libertarian Party Christopher D. Costanzo 4.5%
     Liberty Union Robert M. Fisher 2.5%
Total Votes 201,873

Campaign donors

Comprehensive donor information for Sorrell is available dating back to 1998. Based on available campaign finance records, Sorrell raised a total of $299,540 during that time period. This information was last updated on May 8, 2013.[23]

Bill Sorrell's Campaign Contribution History
Year Office Result Contributions
2012 VT Attorney General Won $189,099
2010 VT Attorney General Won $20,193
2008 VT Attorney General Won $7,950
2006 VT Attorney General Won $14,438
2004 VT Attorney General Won $15,906
2002 VT Attorney General Won $16,557
2000 VT Attorney General Won $14,113
1998 VT Attorney General Won $21,284
Grand Total Raised $299,540


Sorrell won re-election to the position of Vermont Attorney General in 2012. During that election cycle, Sorrell raised a total of $189,099.


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 Bill Sorrell's donors each year.[24] Click [show] for more information.


Sorrell currently resides in Burlington, Vermont with his wife, Mary Alice McKenzie. The couple has two children together.

Contact information


Capitol Address:
Vermont Attorney General
109 State Street
Montpelier VT 05609-1001

Phone: (802) 828-3171
Fax: (802) 828-2154
E-mail: aginfo@atg.state.vt.us

Campaign Contact:
Bill Sorrell for Vt Attorney General
P.O. Box 809
Montpelier, VT 05609

Phone: 802-660-1962
Email: info@billsorrell.com

Recent news

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See also

External links

Suggest a link


  1. Manchester Journal, "Sorrell: A different kind of election," July 9, 2012
  2. Vermont office of the Attorney General, "Attorney General William H. Sorrell," accessed May 7, 2013
  3. WPTZ.com "Donovan v Sorrell for Vermont Attorney General," March 20, 2012
  4. The Oyez Project - Randall v. Sorrell summary
  5. Vermont Democratic Party, "Priorities for our Attorney General and Secretary of State," April 24, 2013
  6. Competitive Enterprise Institute "Issue Analysis: The Nation’s Top Ten Worst State Attorneys General" 12 July, 2010
  7. Burlington Free Press, "Sorrell claims victory says Donovan concedes," August 29, 2012
  8. Vermont Secretary of State Elections Division, "2012 Candidate Listing," accessed October 19, 2012
  9. Vermont Public Radio "Campaign 2012 Election Results" Accessed November 6, 2012
  10. The Manchester Journal, "Sorrell: A different kind of election," July 9, 2012
  11. VTDigger, "Trail Tidbits: Poll shows Sorrell would beat Donovan two-to-one; Sorrell wins senatorial endorsements; Sears backs Donovan," May 22, 2012
  12. The Burlington Free Press, "Donovan earns his party's endorsement, but his primary challenger will likely, too," May 14, 2012
  13. 13.0 13.1 Burlington Free Press, "Democratic Committee votes against endorsing Sorrell," July 21, 2012
  14. Burlington Free Press, "Democratic Committee votes against endorsing Sorrell," July 21, 2012
  15. Bill Sorrell for Attorney General, "Supporters," accessed July 23, 2012
  16. Vermont Elections Division - 2010 General Election Results
  17. Vermont Secretary of State - 2006 Primary Election Results
  18. Vermont Secretary of State - 2006 General Election Results
  19. Vermont Secretary of State - 2002 Primary Election Results
  20. Vermont Secretary of State - 2002 General Election Results
  21. Vermont Secretary of State - 1998 General Election Results
  22. Vermont Secretary of State - 1998 General Election Results
  23. Follow the Money, " Career fundraising for William Sorrell," accessed May 8, 2013
  24. Follow the Money.org

Political offices
Preceded by
Jeffrey L. Amestoy
Vermont Attorney General
Succeeded by