J.B. Van Hollen

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J.B. Van Hollen
J.B. Van Hollen.png
Attorney General of Wisconsin
In office
January 1, 2007 - Present
Term ends
Years in position 8
PredecessorPeg Lautenschlager (D)
President of National Association of Attorneys General
Base salary$140,147
Elections and appointments
Last electionNovember 2, 2010
First electedNovember 2006
Next generalNovember 4, 2014
Campaign $$3,158,151
Term limitsNone
Prior offices
U.S. Attorney, Wisconsin Western District
District Attorney, Ashland County, Wisconsin
Bachelor'sSt. Olaf College (1988)
J.D.University of Wisconsin Law School (1990)
Place of birthDelta, WI
Office website
Personal website
Campaign website
J.B. Van Hollen (born February 19, 1966, in Delta, Wisconsin) is the 43rd and current Attorney General of Wisconsin. A Republican, Van Hollen was sworn into office on January 2, 2007, succeeding Democratic incumbent Peg Lautenschlager.[1] Lautenschlager lost her bid for re-election in the Democratic primary, largely due to a DUI charge she received while driving a state-owned vehicle earlier in 2006.[2]

Van Hollen was re-elected to a second term as attorney general on November 2, 2010. Though he is eligible to run for re-election in 2014, he announced that he will not be seeking a third term.[3][4]

An early priority of his time in office was prioritizing forensic DNA analysis at the State Crime Lab. His official bio states that his tenure has been guided by "A philosophy of first principles, limited government, and the Department's role as an 'exist to assist' state agency."[5]

Van Hollen was elected President of the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) in June 2013.[6][7]


One year after receiving his law degree from Wisconsin Law School in 1990, Van Hollen took up the job of Assistant United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin. He was later appointed by Governor Tommy Thompson as Ashland County District Attorney in 1993, serving in the position for six years. Governor Thompson called upon Van Hollen once more to serve the public, designating him the Bayfield County District Attorney. In 2002, he became the United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin.[5]


  • Bachelor's degree, St. Olaf College (1988) in political science and economics
  • Juris Doctorate degree, University of Wisconsin Law School (1990)

Political career

Wisconsin Attorney General (2007-present)

Val Hollen was re-elected as Wisconsin's top law enforcement official in 2010. On July 3, 2012, the state Justice Department announced that Van Hollen was elected President of the National Association of Attorneys General, and took office in June 2013. The NAAG was created "to assist state attorneys general and improve interaction and coordination in handling state and federal issues." Prior to his election, he served as Vice President of the Association. “It’s a tremendous honor to be elected by my fellow Attorneys General to serve in this capacity, and it’s a responsibility I take very seriously,” Van Hollen said in a press statement following the announcement.[8]

In his first term, Van Hollen made significant strides in a number of key areas. The state's Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force Affiliates has grown by leaps and bounds since his taking office. Prior to Van Hollen being sworn into office in January 2007, the Wisconsin Department of Justice had only recruited twenty-three partners. Following his election, the number of agencies enlisted exceeded one-hundred. Affiliates in the program "receive financial grants and equipment along with specialized training as a part of this cooperative approach to investigating and prosecuting child predators." [9]

Open records lawsuit

Senator Jon Erpenbach (D) claimed that Van Hollen only worked to uphold those laws with which he agreed, causing Erpenbach to hire the private law firm of Whyte Hirschboeck Dudek instead of using Wisconsin Department of Justice lawyers to defend him against an open records lawsuit from the John K. MacIver Institute. Erpenbach had responded to the Institute's March 24, 2011, Open Records Law request for correspondence related to Act 10 (the changes to public employee bargaining laws passed in 2011) by releasing the documents after removing the senders' names and other personal information. The MacIver Institute wanted to examine these records to determine whether any state employees violated government policies by sending communications from their government email accounts or on state time and filed suit to gain access to the senders' identities. DOJ spokeswoman Dana Brueck denied Erpenbach's claims about Van Hollen's bias. Erpenbach's legal defense, paid for by taxpayers, cost $57,272 from March to October 31, 2012, in addition to $2,194 paid to University of Wisconsin-Madison professor David Canon for research related to the case. On February 5, 2013, Grant County Circuit Judge Robert Van De Hey ruled that he would examine unredacted copies of the emails to decide if the MacIver Institute should be given access to them.[10][11]

Great Lakes

Faced with the threat of an invasion of Asian carp into the Great Lakes, an event that would have far-reaching consequences for the ecosystem, Van Hollen, in conjunction with state attorneys general from both Minnesota and Ohio, filed a response supporting the State of Michigan's Motion for Preliminary Injunction with the United States Supreme Court. [12] Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox sued the State of Illinois, The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago in late-December 2009 seeking the closure of the O'Brien Lock and Dam and the Chicago Controlling Works. He also demanded that Illinois take action to permanently separate the waterways from the Great Lakes in the future and conduct an investigative study in order to determine how best to eradicate the carp from the waterways. [13]

Healthcare reform

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

On December 6, 2010, Attorney General Van Hollen told the Associated Press that he was beginning work on challenging the constitutionality of federal health care reform. Van Hollen was weighing his options towards filing his own lawsuit or joining 20 other states that already filed in a Florida federal court. Van Hollen was forced to wait to take action until January 3, 2011, when Republican Scott Walker was sworn in as Governor[14]. He subsequently joined what would become a coalition of 26 state attorneys general in the lawsuit against the federal government over the law. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled to uphold the law on June 28, 2012.[15]

Campaign finance

Attorney General Van Hollen issued a formal opinion on August 9, 2010, that disclosed how Wisconsin's campaign finance laws were affected by the Citizens United ruling. Van Hollen stated that Wisconsin's ban on corporate independent expenditures was unconstitutional as a result of the ruling. However, the ban on corporations directly contributing to candidates was still in effect. Political communications involving issue advocacy was also mentioned in the opinion. The Attorney General stated that communications involving issue advocacy were not excluded under the First Amendment. The Legislature could regulate issue advocacy according to the opinion, but Van Hollen warned that there were many unanswered questions if new laws regulating such advocacy could be constitutional. The Attorney General cautioned the Legislature to not disregard the First Amendment when drawing up legislation to regulate issue advocacy.[16]

Open carry

In response to questions directed toward his office from district attorneys and police officials from across the state concerning whether the mere act of wearing a handgun in a visible holster amounted to a violation of the disorderly conduct statute, Van Hollen issued an advisory brief in April 2009 stating that it was within federal legal boundaries to do so. Quoting Federal Justice Department precedent, the Wisconsin Attorney General argued that "mere open carry of a firearm, absent additional facts and circumstances, should not result in a disorderly conduct charge." [17] He did warn, however, this does not immune an individual from questioning by police, which Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn, in responding to the opinion, advised his officers to do.


Ken Kratz

In September 2010, the Associated Press revealed that Calumet County District Attorney Ken Kratz, a Republican who, two years earlier, had attempted a run for Congress, sent Stephanie Van Groll, whose boyfriend he was prosecuting for attempting to strangle her to death, thirty sex-ladened text messages in three days nearly a year earlier. [18] Ms. Groll had gone to the Kaukauna Police Department on October 22, 2009 fearing that his interest in her would affect his prosecution of her ex-boyfriend. Shortly after reported the incident, the Kaukauna PD handed the matter over to the State Division of Criminal Investigation who began an inquiry on October 27, before promptly closing it several days later after it had been determined that there "weren’t any facts that indicated any crimes were committed." [19]

While no charges were filed, Van Hollen's Office did pressure Kratz to report the incident to the State Office of Lawyer Regulation (OLR). The State Supreme Court requires a lawyer to file such a report if they know of another lawyer who has committed professional misconduct; this misconduct, however, must raise a substantial question as to that lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer. It was not until December 4, 2009 that Kratz finally reported the text messages to the OLR. It was also around this time that the Calumet D.A. resigned from his position as Chair of the State Crime Victims Rights Board. However, three months later, the OLR decided not to conduct a formal investigation of Kratz; they believed that the texts, while inappropriate, did not represent professional misconduct on the D.A.'s part.

Following the release of the story, outgoing Democratic Governor Jim Doyle announced that he was beginning the process of removing Kratz from office; two weeks later, however, Kratz, who had placed himself on medical leave, chose to resign as Calumet County District Attorney. [20] [21]

Scott Hassett, the Democratic nominee challenging Van Hollen in his bid for re-election, used this as an issue against the State Attorney General late in the campaign. In an email sent to supporters on September 21, 2010, Hassett accused Van Hollen of knowing about the district attorney sexting case nearly a year ago, but refusing to do anything about it. Since that email, however, Hassett became more reserved, arguing that Van Hollen did not do anything "substantive" to deal with the problem. At their first debate at the Marquette University Law School in Milwaukee on October 7, 2010, Van Hollen contended, however, that he forced Kratz to resign from the State Crime Victims Rights Board, made Kratz turn himself in to the Office of Lawyer Regulation, and to force the District Attorney to relinquish his authority to prosecute domestic violence cases in Calumet County over to the Attorney General. If anyone is to blame, he said, it would be the Office of Lawyer Regulation who failed to do its duty to take any disciplinary action on District Attorney Kratz.



See also: Wisconsin attorney general election, 2014

Van Hollen is eligible to run for re-election as Wisconsin Attorney General in 2014, but will not be seeking another term.[4]


See also: Wisconsin Attorney General election, 2010
  • 2010 Race for Attorney General - General Election
  • Van Hollen defeated Democrat Scott Hassett in the general election contest by a margin of over 15 percentage points.
Attorney General of Wisconsin, 2010
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngJ.B. Van Hollen Incumbent 57.8% 1,220,791
     Democratic Scott Hassett 42.1% 890,080
     - Scattering 0.1% 1,614
Total Votes 2,112,485
Election Results via Wisconsin Government Accountability Board

  • 2010 Race for Attorney General - Republican Primary
  • J.B. Van Hollen ran unopposed in this contest
2010 Race for Attorney General - General Election [22]
Party Candidate Vote Percentage
     Republican Party Approveda J.B. Van Hollen 57.8%
     Democratic Party Scott Hassett 42.2%
Total Votes 2,112,390


On November 7, 2006, J.B. Van Hollen won election to the office of Attorney General of Wisconsin. He defeated Kathleen Falk (D) in the general election.

Attorney General of Wisconsin, 2006
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngJ.B. Van Hollen 50.2% 1,065,453
     Democratic Kathleen Falk 49.7% 1,056,594
     - Scattering 0.1% 2,420
Total Votes 2,124,467
Election Results Via: Wisconsin Government Accountability Board

2006 Race for Attorney General - Republican Primary [23]
Party Candidate Vote Percentage
     Republican Party Approveda J.B. Van Hollen 59.4%
     Republican Party Paul Bucher 40.6%
Total Votes 250,514

Campaign contributions

Comprehensive donor information for Van Hollen is available dating back to 2006. Based on available campaign finance records, Van Hollen raised a total of $3,158,151 during that time period. This information was last updated on May 6, 2013.[24]

J.B. Van Hollen's Campaign Contribution History
Year Office Result Contributions
2012 Wisconsin Attorney General Not up for election $257,608
2010 Wisconsin Attorney General Won $850,245
2008 Wisconsin Attorney General Not up for election $329,595
2006 Wisconsin Attorney General Won $1,720,703
Grand Total Raised $3,158,151


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 J.B. Van Hollen's donors each year.[25] Click [show] for more information.

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Van Hollen currently resides in Waunakee, Wisconsin with his wife, Lynne, and their two children - Byron and Madelyn. In 2010, he received the Openness Award from Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council [26]

Van Hollen is a member of a number of organizations, including Ducks Unlimited, Grouse Unlimited, National Rifle Association, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, and Wisconsin Sporting Heritage, Incorporated.

Contact Information

Capitol Address:


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. Van Hollen for AG, "About," accessed April 11, 2013
  2. GMToday "Wis. GOP delegate files complaint over call" 28 April, 2010
  3. FOX 6, "Wisconsin AG expects to run again in 2014," December 18, 2012
  4. 4.0 4.1 Wis Politics, AG Van Hollen: Van Hollen will not seek re-election, October 7, 2013
  5. 5.0 5.1 Wisconsin Department of Justice, "Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen," accessed April 11, 2013
  6. National Association of Attorneys General, "J.B. Van Hollen (R)," accessed April 11, 2013
  7. National Association of Attorneys General, "Wisconsin Attorney General Becomes NAAG President," June 20, 2013
  8. Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel, "Wisconsin's J.B. Van Hollen elected president-elect of National Association of Attorneys General," July 4, 2012
  9. Wispolitics "AG Van Hollen: Internet Crimes Against Children Affiliates pass 100" 7 Dec. 2009
  10. Mary Spicuzza, Wisconsin State Journal, "Taxpayers foot bill for Erpenbach's legal costs in open records case," Februar 5, 2013
  11. Patrick Marley, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, February 5, 2013
  12. Democratic Underground "AG Van Hollen: Seeks to stop Asian carp invasion of Lake Michigan" 30 Dec. 2009
  13. Michigan Live "Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox sues Chicago, Illinois, Corps of Engineers for Asian 'carp-infested waters'" 21 Dec. 2009
  14. The Post-Crescent "Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen to sue over health care reform", December 6, 2010
  15. Wisconsin State Journal, "Van Hollen says Walker must comply with health care law," June 28, 2012
  16. Office of Attorney General JB Van Hollen "Van Hollen Issues Formal Opinion on Direct Impact of Citizens United on Wisconsin Campaign Financing Laws" 9 Aug. 2010
  17. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel "Open carrying of firearms legal, Van Hollen says" 20 April, 2009
  18. City Pages "Kenneth Kratz sexts victim while prosecuting her boyfriend" 15 Sept. 2010
  19. Politifact "Challenger Scott Hassett says Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen knew about district attorney sexting case but did nothing about it" 4 Oct. 2010
  20. Green Bay Press Gazette "Gov. Jim Doyle will begin review of Calumet County DA Ken Kratz" 20 Sept. 2010
  21. CBS News "Ken Kratz, "Sexting Prosecutor," Resigns; Tried to Start Affair with Domestic Abuse Client" 4 Oct. 2010
  22. Wisconsin Government Accountability Board - 2010 General Election Results
  23. Wisconsin Government Accountability Board - 2006 Republican Primary Election Results
  24. Follow the Money, " Career fundraising for J.B. Van Hollen," accessed May 6, 2013
  25. Follow the Money.org, "Home," accessed February 17, 2015
  26. Green Bay Press Gazette "Green Bay Press-Gazette, attorney general J.B. Van Hollen win Openness Award from Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council" 11 March, 2010

Political offices
Preceded by
Peg Lautenschlager (D)
Wisconsin Attorney General
Succeeded by