Greg Abbott

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Greg Abbott
Greg Abbott headshot.jpg
Current candidacy
Running for Governor of Texas
General electionNovember 4, 2014
Current office
Attorney General of Texas
In office
December 2, 2002 - Present
Term ends
Years in position 13
PredecessorJohn Cornyn (R)
Base salary$150,000
Elections and appointments
Last electionNovember 2, 2010
First electedNovember 5, 2002
Next generalNovember 4, 2014
Campaign $$44,578,628
Term limitsN/A
Prior offices
Texas Supreme Court
Bachelor'sUniversity of Texas (1981)
J.D.Vanderbilt University (1984)
Date of birthNovember 13, 1957
Place of birthWichita Falls, TX
Office website
Gregory W. "Greg" Abbott (born November 13, 1957, in Wichita Falls, Texas) is the 50th and current Attorney General of Texas. A Republican, he was first elected to the post in 2002, assuming the office in December following John Cornyn's election to the U.S. Senate. Abbott was easily re-elected in 2006 and 2010.

Abbott is running for governor in 2014.[1]

Abbott previously served on the Texas Supreme Court from 1995-2001, resigning in order to make his bid for attorney general. He is most well known for his role in the U.S. Supreme Court case of Van Orden v. Perry (2005), where he defended the constitutionality of the Ten Commandments monument that sits on the grounds of the Texas Capitol.[2]

Considered a far-right conservative,[3] [4] Abbott's campaign website identifies him as such, referring to the attorney general as "one of the nation’s leading advocates for stopping the federal overreach of the Obama Administration, a defender of the Constitution, and a conservative to the core."[5] As Attorney General, Abbott has been involved in a number of high profile cases, notably the fight against Obamacare, which he has compared with the battle of the Alamo.[6]

A February 2013 article in Governing named Abbott as one of the top state Republican officials to watch in 2013.[7][8]


Greg Abbot is a native Texan, born in Wichita Falls and raised in Duncanville. He attended the University of Texas for his undergraduate degree in finance, and then proceeded to earn his J.D. from Vanderbilt University Law School. After graduation in 1984, Abbot began a legal career in the private sector.

Abbott initially entered the state political stage in Houston, where he was selected to serve as a state trial judge on the 129th District Court for three years beginning in 1993. Following that he was appointed by then-Governor George W. Bush to the Texas State Supreme Court, being subsequently elected to the post twice - first in 1996 to a two-year term and then again in 1998 for a six-year term. During this period, Abbott returned to private practice as an attorney for the law firm of Bracewell and Patterson Limited Liability Partnership.[9]

Abbott's service in the Texas' legal arena earned him several titles of recognition, including Jurist of the Year Award from the Texas Review of Law and Politics, Trial Judge of the Year Award from the Texas Association of Civil Trial and Appellate Specialists, and Appellate Judge of the Year Award from the Texas Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates.

In addition to his professional duties, Abbott contributes his time and leadership skills to organizations and committees to which feels a personal connection through taking on various roles, including but not limited to:

  • Honorary State Chairman, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Texas (2004)
  • Former Member, Board of Advisors, Career and Recovery Resources Incorporated
  • Member, Central Texas Chapter - Goodwill Industries
  • Member, Justice for All
  • Former Trustee, Texas Institute for Rehabilitation and Research Foundation
  • Member, Governor's Committee to Promote Adoption

Partial Paralysis

Shortly after graduating from law school, Abbott was jogging through River Oaks with a friend when a 75-foot oak tree snapped and fell on him, "breaking his back and some ribs." Even after multiple surgeries to repair the damage, he was still left partially paralyzed and forced to use a wheelchair to move around. Abbott went on to hire "Don Riddle, a well-regarded trial lawyer, to sue the homeowner and later the arborist," eventually agreeing "to an out-of-court settlement that would pay Abbott's current and future medical bills and compensate him for mental anguish and for some of the income he lost because of the accident."

It was reported that as of October 2002 Abbott had already received nearly $3 million of an award that is expected to exceed $10 million through the course of his lifetime. Riddle reportedly earned $1 million for the case and said that medical costs and other actual damages accounted for a fraction of the settlement, which mainly compensated Abbott for non-economic damages such as mental anguish. [10]


  • Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) degree, University of Texas (1981) in Finance
  • Juris Doctorate degree, Vanderbilt University Law School (1984)

Political career

Texas Attorney General (2002-present)

Abbott resigned from the State Supreme Court in 2001 to seek the open attorney general's seat up for election the next year. He was first voted to serve in the position in 2002 following the election of John Cornyn to the United States Senate, becoming only the second Republican to hold the office since Reconstruction. Abbott was reelected as the 50th Attorney General of Texas on November 2, 2010. Prior to his election as attorney general, Abbott served as a Justice on the Texas Supreme Court and as a State District Judge in Harris County. [11]

As the state's top law enforcer, Abbott established a Cyber Crimes United to arrest criminals who use the internet to prey upon children. Additionally, he helped create the Fugitive Unit to arrest sex offenders who violate their parole and expanded the Medicaid Fraud Control United, which cracks down on abuse of the elderly and waste of taxpayer dollars.


Voting Rights Act

When the Supreme Court overturned a section of the 1965 Voting Rights Act on July 25, 2013, the Texas Voter ID law that was federally denied, became active. Abbott led the push for the law after launching an investigation into voter fraud in Texas.[12] Texas' photo ID law, SB14, previously required pre-clearance by the USDOJ before going into effect which was denied on March 13, 2012. On August 30, 2012, a three-judge panel in United States District Court for the District of Columbia unanimously struck down the Texas photo voter identification law. The court ruled that the law would hurt minority voter turnout and impose strict burdens on the poor.[13] Eric Holder, the United States Attorney General, announced on July 25, 2013 that the Justice Department will ask a court to require Texas to get federal approval before making changes to election laws.[14] In response to the New York Time's story on Holder's actions, Abbott tweeted "I'll fight #Obama's effort to control our elections & I'll fight against cheating at ballot box," [15] Texas governor Rick Perry also spoke out in opposition saying Holder's remarks demonstrated “utter contempt for our country’s system of checks and balances.” Perry felt Holder's plan would weaken the state's voter-integrity laws and elections process.[14]

Texas v. Sony BMG Music Entertainment

On November 21, 2005, Abbott filed suit against Sony BMG Music Entertainment, marking Texas as the first state in the nation to bring legal action against Sony BMG for illegal 'spyware'. The controversy centered on the copy protection measures included by Sony BMG on compact discs starting in 2005. Sony BMG CDs embedded with these protection measures automatically installed software called a rootkit that created vulnerabilities for other malware to exploit when customers tried to play the compact discs on their computers. A month later, Abbott added new allegations to his lawsuit stating that the MediaMax copy protection technology violated the state's spyware and deceptive trade practices laws. He argued that even though Sony-BMG offered consumers a licensing agreement when they bought CDs and played them on their computers, spyware is secretly installed on their computers, posing security risks for music buyers, even if consumers reject the agreement. Abbott said "We keep discovering additional methods Sony used to deceive Texas consumers who thought they were simply buying music", and "Thousands of Texans are now potential victims of this deceptive game Sony played with consumers for its own purposes." In addition to violations of the Consumer Protection Against Computer Spyware Act of 2005, which allows for civil penalties of $100,000 for each violation of the law, the alleged violations added in the updated lawsuit, on December 21, 2005, carried maximum penalties of $20,000 per violation. [16]

Van Orden v. Perry (2005)

In 2002, Thomas Van Orden, a resident of Austin, sued the state of Texas in federal district court over a monument of the Ten Commandments located on the grounds of the state capitol building. He believed this to be a clear violation of "the First Amendment's establishment clause, which prohibits the government from passing laws 'respecting an establishment of religion'." The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit respectfully disagreed, ruling a year later that the "monument served a valid secular purpose and would not appear to a reasonable observer to represent a government endorsement of religion." Van Orden appealed the decision and on October 12, 2004, the Supreme Court of the United States agreed to hear the case. Attorney General of Texas Greg Abbott appeared before the high court on March 2, 2005, defending the state's Ten Commandments monument, a display that has stood on the state Capitol grounds, he noted, for more than forty years, and arguing that the grounds surrounding the capitol building contained 17 monuments and 21 historical markers commemorating the "people, ideals, and events that compose Texan identity" and that the Commandments were just one of them.

In a five-to-four decision delivered on June 27, 2005, the opinion of the Supreme Court, delivered by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, "deemed the Texas monument part of the nation's tradition of recognizing the Ten Commandments' historical meaning" and therefore was constitutional. Even though the Ten Commandments are of a religious nature, simply having religious content or promoting a message in line with religious teachings, the court noted, "does not run afoul of the establishment clause." [2]

Justice Stephen Breyer, who served as the swing vote in the case, wrote: "The circumstances surrounding the monument's placement on the capitol grounds and its physical setting provide a strong, but not conclusive, indication that the Commandments' text as used on this monument conveys a predominantly secular message … The determinative factor here, however, is that 40 years passed in which the monument's presence, legally speaking, went unchallenged ... Those 40 years suggest more strongly than can any set of formulaic tests that few individuals ... are likely to have understood the monument as amounting ... to a government effort to establish religion." [17]

Hailing the Supreme Court's decision, Abbott said, "This is a great victory not just for Texans, but for all Americans. With this ruling, the United States Supreme Court has delivered a clear message that the Texas Ten Commandments can be displayed on public grounds in recognition of the historical role they have played in the foundation of this country and its laws." The Ten Commandments monument remains just northwest of the Capitol in Austin, Texas.


Abbott filed suit in federal court on February 16, 2010, to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from instituting regulation of greenhouse gases. The decision by the EPA to moderate the release of greenhouse gases was based on a finding conducted by the Obama administration that declared carbon dioxide a danger to public health, saying it contributes to global warming. Abbott, in conjunction with Governor Rick Perry, objected to the move because it would place a tremendous financial burden on state businesses and homeowners, who were already under enough strain as result of the recession, and that it would jeopardize jobs. Both state officials believed that the finding was based on faulty science. [18]

Illegal immigration

Nearly two weeks after the United States Justice Department filed suit against the state of Arizona over its anti-illegal immigration law, Senate Bill 1070 - The Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act (SB 1070), contending that it "interferes with federal immigration responsibilities," Abbott joined eight other Republican state attorneys general in filing an amicus brief in support of the measure. [19] [20]

Healthcare reform
See also: State Attorneys General Against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010

In the wake of the historic passage of President Barack Obama's healthcare reform legislation on Christmas Eve in 2009, Abbott was one of ten Republican attorneys general questioning not only the constitutionality of a specific controversial provision within the Senate version of the bill, but also exploring potential legal challenges to the measure as well. The stipulation in question was the back room deal Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid struck with Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson to recruit him as the 60th vote needed to pass the measure, an arrangement "dubbed the 'Nebraska Compromise' or the 'Cornhusker Kickback' by Republican critics." The agreement gave Nebraska exemption from its share of the Medicaid expansion, "a carve out that is expected to cost the federal government $100 million over 10 years." [21] The Attorney General of Texas roundly criticized Senator Nelson's pact with Reid, calling it an "unprecedented and highly questionable backroom deal." [22] Nearly three months later, on the very night the United States House of Representatives narrowly approved the Senate reconciliation bill on health care reform by a vote of 219 - 212, Abbott posted on his Facebook page that he was "organizing a conference call tonight for AGs across the country. We will discuss our litigation strategy about the healthcare bill." [23] Two days later, shortly after President Barack Obama signed into law his controversial reform measure, Abbott and twelve other Attorneys General, all but one being Republican, filed suit against "the federal government to stop the massive health care overhaul, claiming it's unconstitutional." [24] In a written statement issued that same day, Abbott affirmed that he would do everything within his powers as state attorney general "to protect all Texans' constitutional rights, preserve the constitutional framework intended by our nation's founders, and defend our state from further infringement by the federal government." [25]

On June 28, 2012, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 to uphold the Affordable Care Act, with Chief Justice Roberts providing the deciding vote. The landmark decision was hailed as a victory by both ends of the political spectrum. Those who defended the President's healthcare overhaul from the beginning felt the ruling vindicated the President and the law against accusations of unconstitutionality; those who opposed the law, including the 26 attorneys general who instigated the legal challenge, felt likewise redeemed insofar as two key provisos determined by the Supreme Court as necessary to the overall preservation of the law.[26] For one, the court ruled to limit the federal government's authority to require states to participate in the Medicaid expansion. Second, the individual mandate failed to stand up to constitutional vetting vis a vis the Commerce Clause, and therefore would survive in the form of a tax. The latter proviso struck at the heart of the lawsuit, leading Abbott to call the ruling a “total victory.” In a statement to the New York Times, Abbott said, “When the sun sets on this, one thing we know is that the Obama administration will scoff no more at the resolve and ability of state attorneys general."[27]

Domestic partner benefits

On April 29, 2013, Abbot issued a legal opinion stating that domestic partner benefits offered by the city of Austin, Travis County, and area school districts are illegal under the Texas Constitution. Texas voters approved the constitutional amendment banning same-sex unions in 2005. According to Abbott's opinion, “By creating domestic partnerships and offering health benefits based on them, the political subdivisions have created and recognized something not established by Texas law.”[28]

Attorney General opinions seek to determine how a court would rule on an issue, but the courts have final say on constitutional questions. To that end, lawyers for Austin and Travis County are deciding if the opinion should be followed. Travis County had offered domestic partner benefits for 16 years. It became an issue when state Sen. Dan Patrick (R) asked Abbott to look into the matter.[28]


Injury settlement

In light of the nearly $10 million settlement he is expected to receive throughout the course of his lifetime as a result of his injury, critics of the Attorney General of Texas argue that Abbott's claim of being a champion of tort reform is disingenuous, if not downright hypocritical. Abbott respectively disagreed. He noted that "the legal remedies available to him when the accident occurred are still available now [which,] if the accident happened the same way now ... it would probably result in the same kind of settlement." [10]

X-ray seizure

In late-August 2006, Justice Janis Graham Jack ordered Abbott's office to explain why a significant number of X-rays that were being used as evidence "in a federal investigation of potentially fraudulent silicosis lawsuits filed by alleged victims of the lung disease" were seized from a federal depository. [29] Armed law enforcement officers were reportedly issued by Abbott to take X-rays from the court-established depository two months earlier; Judge Janis Jack did not become aware of the move until July 5th.

An assistant for the Attorney General of Texas blamed the action on miscommunication, explaining that state prosecutors were acting in "pursuant to subpoenas signed by county judges," when, in fact, no such approval had been granted. [30] A lawyer for one of the defendants in the case, however, believes that the decision was made because "Texas officials were opposed to an order Judge Jack had issued calling for the X-rays to be moved from Texas to Jackson, Miss. to be closer to most of the plaintiffs and their lawyers." [31]



See also: Texas gubernatorial election, 2014

Abbott ran for Governor of Texas in the 2014 election. Abbott sought the Republican nomination in the primary. Incumbent Gov. Rick Perry (R) is not seeking re-election.[32][33][1] The general election took place November 4, 2014.

Greg Abbott for Attorney General Campaign logo


See also: Texas Attorney General election, 2010
  • 2010 Race for Attorney General - Republican Primary
  • Greg Abbott ran unopposed in this contest
2010 Race for Attorney General - General Election [34]
Party Candidate Vote Percentage
     Republican Party Approveda Greg Abbott 64.1%
     Democratic Party Barbara Ann Radnofsky 33.7%
     Libertarian Party Jon Roland 2.3%
Total Votes 4,919,041


  • 2006 Race for Attorney General - Republican Primary
  • Greg Abbott ran unopposed in this contest
2006 Race for Attorney General - General Election
Party Candidate Vote Percentage
     Republican Party Approveda Greg Abbott 59.5%
     Democratic Party David Van Os 37.2%
     Libertarian Party Jon Roland 3.3%
Total Votes 4,294,800


  • 2002 Race for Attorney General - Republican Primary
  • Greg Abbott ran unopposed in this contest
2002 Race for Attorney General - General Election
Party Candidate Vote Percentage
     Republican Party Approveda Greg Abbott 56.7%
     Democratic Party Kirk Watson 41.1%
     Libertarian Party Jon Roland 1.3%
     Green Party David Keith Cobb 0.9%
Total Votes 4,481,983

Campaign donors

Comprehensive donor information for Abbott is available dating back to 1996. Based on available campaign finance records, Abbott raised a total of $44,578,628 during that time period. This information was last updated on May 9, 2013.[35]

Greg Abbott's Campaign Contribution History
Year Office Result Contributions
2012 TX Attorney General Not up for election $13,888,126
2010 TX Attorney General Won $5,828,370
2008 TX Attorney General Not up for election $4,017,425
2006 TX Attorney General Won $6,855,483
2004 TX Attorney General Not up for election $3,341,037
2002 TX Attorney General Won $8,582,552
1998 TX Supreme Court Won $1,377,317
1996 TX Supreme Court Won $688,318
Grand Total Raised $44,578,628


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 Greg Abbott's donors each year.[36] Click [show] for more information.

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Abbot and his wife, Cecilia, a former school teacher and principal, have been married for 30 years. They live in Austin with their daughter, Audrey.

Contact info


Capitol Address:
Texas Attorney General
Post Office Box 12548
Austin, TX 78711-2548

Phone: (512) 463-2100
Toll Free Phone: (800) 252-8011
Fax: (800) 252-8011

See also

External links

Suggest a link


  1. 1.0 1.1 Houston Chronicle, "AG Abbott formally kicks off gubernatorial bid," July 14, 2013
  2. 2.0 2.1 The Oyez Project - Van Orden v. Perry summary
  3. The Guardian, "Does Texas need a more conservative governor? Greg Abbott sure thinks so," January 31, 2013
  4. The Statesman, "Abbott trumpeting his conservative credentials," April 30, 2013
  5. Greg Abbott, " Bio," accessed June 10, 2013
  6. Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, "Abbott compares fight against Obamacare to Alamo," September 5, 2012
  7. Governing, "State Republican Officials to Watch in 2013," February 6, 2013
  8. Houston Chronicle, "Strong fundraising by Rick Perry, Greg Abbott fuels speculation about 2014 campaign," August 20, 2012
  9. Greg Abbott Bio
  10. 10.0 10.1 Texas Weekly "Greg Abbott as Plaintiff" 18 Feb. 2002
  11. Greg Abbott Bio
  12. Dallas News, Greg Abbott invokes states rights in defending Texas against federal voting-rights efforts, July 26, 2013
  13. The New York Times,"Court Blocks Texas Voter ID Law, Citing Racial Impact," August 30, 2012
  14. 14.0 14.1 New York Times, Holder Wants Texas to Clear Voting Changes With the U.S., July 25, 2013
  15. Twitter, Greg Abbott, July 25, 2013
  16. New York Times "Sony BMG Sued Over CD's With Anti-Piracy Software" 22 Nov. 2005
  17. Cornell University Law School - Van Orden v. Perry: Breyer concurrence
  18. The Statesman "Texas sues to stop EPA from regulating greenhouse gases" 16 Feb. 2010
  19. FOX News "Justice Department Files Suit Against Arizona Immigration Law" 6 July, 2010
  20. Houston Conservative Examiner "Rick Perry and Bill White weigh in on justice department lawsuit and Arizona's immigration law" 16 July, 2010
  21. Politico "GOP AGs may sue over health bill" 24 Dec. 2009
  22. The Dallas Morning News "With health care fight, Abbott again takes on D.C." 26 March, 2010
  23. National Review Online - The Corner "AGs vs. HCR?" 21 March, 2010
  24. Associated Press "13 attorneys general sue over health care overhaul" 23 March, 2010
  25. The Dallas Morning News "Abbott vows to challenge legislation in lawsuit" 23 March, 2010
  26. The National Law Journal, "Health care ruling: the professional judgments," July 2, 2012
  27. The New York Times, "For attorneys general, health care law longshot brings payoffs," June 30, 2012
  28. 28.0 28.1 Austin American-Statesman, "Domestic partner benefits violate same-sex ban, attorney general rules," April 29, 2013
  29. Dallas Morning News "Federal judge orders Abbott to explain X-ray evidence seizure" 24 Aug. 2006
  30. The New York Sun "Prosecutors Apologize For X-Ray Seizure" 11 Sept. 2006
  31. The New York Sun "Silicosis Judge Erupts in Fury In Case of the Missing X-Rays" 18 Aug. 2006
  32. Associated Press, "Dad: George P. Bush eyeing Texas land commissioner," November 14, 2012
  33. National Journal, "Report: Abbott to run for Texas governor," January 11, 2013
  34. Texas Secretary of State - 2010 General Election Results
  35. Follow the Money, " Career fundraising for Greg Abbott," accessed May 9, 2013
  36. Follow the, "Home," accessed February 17, 2015
Political offices
Preceded by
John Cornyn (R)
Attorney General of Texas
Succeeded by