Attorney General of Oklahoma

Attorney General of Oklahoma
Office of the Attorney General of Oklahoma
Seal of Oklahoma.svg
Great Seal of Oklahoma
Agency overview
Formed November 17, 1907
Preceding agency Office of the Territorial Attorney General
Headquarters 313 NE 21 Street
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Employees 197
Annual budget $24 million
Agency executive Scott Pruitt, Attorney General

The Attorney General of Oklahoma is the State Attorney General for the state of Oklahoma. The Attorney General serves as the chief legal and law enforcement officer of the State of Oklahoma. The Attorney General is responsible for providing legal advise to the various agencies and departments of the executive branch, legislative branch and judicial branch of the state government. The office is also responsible for the prosecution of offenses to Oklahoma State Statutes and advocate the basic rights of Oklahoman residents.

The 17th and current Attorney General of Oklahoma is Scott Pruitt, who assumed that post on January 10, 2011.




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Elections for the Attorney General are held on a four year concurrent basis, and are held on the same day as the election of the Governor. Though the Governor and the Attorney General run at the same they are not elected on ballot as running mates.

The Attorney General is elected directly by the people of Oklahoma. Elections for the Attorney General are held on a four year basis, on the same day with election of the Governor. However, the Governor and Attorney General are elected on separate ballots and are not running mates. This presents a chance that they may represent different political parties. In the event of a tie between two or more candidates, the Legislature, by joint ballot, elects one the candidates as Attorney General.

As with all offices established by the Oklahoma Constitution in Article V, any person running for the office of Attorney General of Oklahoma must be citizen of the State of Oklahoma, at least thirty-one years of age and a resident of the United States for ten years.

The Attorney General's term lasts for four years and runs coequal with the term of the Governor, beginning on the first Monday in January following their election. As originally written, the Oklahoma Constitution placed no limits on the number of terms an individual could serve as Attorney General. Following the results of the 2010 state elections, the Constitution was amended to limit the Attorney General to no more than two terms, consecutive or not.

Powers and Responsibilities

The Attorney General is the chief legal officer of Oklahoma. The Attorney General's duties include the following:

  • Providing legal advice and representation in court for the Governor and the state government in general
  • Providing legal advice, official opinions, to the Governor and members of the Legislature
  • Defending the state in cases of criminal appeals and suits against the state
  • Defending the constitutionality of state laws

The primary responsibility of the Attorney General is appearing before the Oklahoma Supreme Court or the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals and prosecute or defend all actions and proceedings, civil or criminal, in which the state is a party. This duty extends to representing the state in any United States federal court as well. The Attorney General may also prosecute or defend the state or the people of the state when their interests are before any state commission, board or office. It is also the duty of the Attorney General to institute civil actions against members of any state board, commission, or office for failure to perform their legal duties as well as to prosecute members of any state board, commission, or office for violation of the criminal laws when such violations have occurred in connection with the performance of their official duties.

Another primary role of the Attorney General is to provide a legal opinion upon all questions of law submitted to the Attorney General. Such questions may be submitted by the Legislature (or either branch thereof) or by any state officer, board, commission or department. However, the Attorney General may only provide a legal opinion on matter related to the official duties of the officers that submitted the question and may not act a private attorney. However, members of the Oklahoma House of Representatives and Oklahoma Senate may ask the Attorney General for a legal opinion upon any subject. Private citizens may not ask for legal opinions of the Attorney General.

A chief concern of the Attorney General is monitoring the proper application of state funds appropriated by the Legislature and to prosecute breaches of trust in the administration of such funds. At the request of the Governor, Oklahoma State Auditor and Inspector, Oklahoma State Treasurer, or either branch of the Legislature, the Attorney General may prosecute for any violation of any contract in which the state is interested. When requested to do so by any state officer, board or commission, the office must also prepare proper drafts for contracts, forms and other writing which may be wanted for the use of the state. If funds are illegally expended, upon the request of the Governor or the Legislature, it is the Attorney General who is responsible for instituting actions to recover such funds. This duty also extends to recovering state property and to preventing the illegal use of any state property. After collecting money owed to the state, the Attorney General must deposit all funds into the State Treasury immediately.

The Attorney General has to power to convene multi-county grand juries.

At any time, the Legislature, or either chamber thereof, may require the Attorney General to submit a report on any business relating to the duties of the Attorney General's office.

Relationship with the Governor

Though both the Governor of Oklahoma and Attorney General are elected at the same time, they are elected independently of each other. This makes determining the exact relationship between the offices difficult as it is primarily based on those individuals who hold the offices. With Governor Mary Fallin and Attorney General Scott Pruitt in office, Oklahoma has a Governor and an Attorney General of the same party since 2003 since both Fallin and Pruitt are of the Republican Party.

The event of having a Governor and an Attorney General of different parties has become more frequent ever since Republicans had made gains in state wide elections. Democratic Attorney General Charles Nesbitt and Republican Governor Henry Bellmon in 1963 was the first instance of this occurrence. Since then this has happened only two more times: in 1987 with Republican Governor Henry Bellmon and Democratic Attorney General Robert Harlan Henry, in 1995 with Republican Governor Frank Keating and Democratic Attorney General Drew Edmondson.

When a Governor and Attorney General are of the same party, the relationship often becomes more colligate. However, when the Governor and Attorney General are of different parties, the relation can become somewhat adversarial. This was demonstrated when, in 2001, Governor Keating and Attorney General Edmondson were the plaintiff and defendant in the Oklahoma Supreme Court case Keating v. Edmondson.

When different parties control the offices, it is difficult to determine which officer has more control over the other. Governor, as the chief executive of the State, determines the budget for the entire State Government (including the Attorney General's Office). Additionally, any power or funcation of the Attorney General must be exercised at the direction of the Governor. Should the Attorney General refuse, the Governor has the power to employ Special Counsel to exercise the Attorney General's power for him. The Oklahoma Secretary of Safety and Security, who is appointed by the Governor and serves at his pleasure, oversees the activities of the Attorney General's Office on behald of the Governor. On the other hand, legal opinions issued by the Attorney General are binding on the Governor until overturned by a court of law.

Relations with District Attorneys

Though the Attorney General is the chief law enforcement officer of the State, the State's several District Attorneys (which are the primary local prosecutors of the State) are not under the control or serve at the direction of the Attorney General.

The State is divided into 27 judicial districts, each with one District Attorney. The main purpose of the District Attorney is the prosecution of all criminal actions that occur in their district as well as representing the State in all civil actions arising out of their district. Each District Attorney is an independently elected official in their district and, as such, answer directly to the electorate they serve and not the Attorney General. The Attorney General does not have the power to direct, stop, prevent or otherwise interfere with a District Attorney choosing to prosecute an individual or not. The primary relations between the Attorney General and the District Attorneys is that in cases appealed from the Trial Court level, the Attorney General represents the State at the Appeal Court level instead of the District Attorney.

While the Attorney General does not control local District Attorneys, he does have the power to require the aid and assistance of any District Attorney (in their respective District) on matters related to the Attorney General funcations or case brought to the Supreme Court of Oklahoma or the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals from their respective District. Likewise, any District Attorney may request the assistance of the Attorney General in any matter related to the District Attorney's funcations. Such request must be submitted to the Governor of Oklahoma, and, should he approve, the Governor will direct the Attorney General to assist the requesting District Attorney. There is no appeal of the Governor's decision on this matter.

Oath of Office

"I, ........., do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support, obey, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and the Constitution of the State of Oklahoma, and that I will not, knowingly, receive, directly or indirectly, any money or other valuable thing, for the performance or nonperformance of any act or duty pertaining to my office, other than the compensation allowed by law; I further swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully discharge my duties as Attorney General of the State of Oklahoma to the best of my ability."


Name Party Term
Charles West Democrat 1907–1915
S.P. Freeling Democrat 1915–1923
George Short Democrat 1923–1927
Ed Dabney Democrat 1927–1931
J. Berry King Democrat 1931–1935
Mac Q. Williamson Democrat 1935–1943
Randell S. Cobb Democrat 1943–1946
Mac Q. Williamson Democrat 1946–1963
Charles Nesbitt Democrat 1963–1967
G. T. Blankenship Republican 1967–1971
Larry Derryberry Democrat 1971–1979
Jan Eric Cartwright Democrat 1979–1983
Mike Turpen Democrat 1983–1987
Robert Harlan Henry Democrat 1987–1991
Susan B. Loving Democrat 1991–1995
Drew Edmondson Democrat 1995–2011
Scott Pruitt Republican 2011-current


See also

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