National Association of Attorneys General
The National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) was founded in 1907 to help attorneys general fulfill the responsibilities of their office and to assist in the delivery of high quality legal services to the states and territorial jurisdictions. NAAG’s mission is: "To facilitate interaction among Attorneys General as peers and to facilitate the enhanced performance of Attorneys General and their staffs." NAAG fosters an environment of "cooperative leadership," helping attorneys general respond effectively - individually and collectively - to emerging state and federal issues.
The Association fosters interstate cooperation on legal and law enforcement issues, conducts policy research and analysis of issues, conducts training, and facilitates communication between the states’ chief legal officers and all levels of government. The Association’s members are the attorneys general of the 50 states and the District of Columbia and the chief legal officers of the Commonwealths of Puerto Rico (Secretary of Justice) and the Northern Mariana Islands, and the territories of American Samoa, Guam, and the Virgin Islands.
The Attorneys General
The attorney general is popularly elected in 43 states, and is appointed by the governor in five states (Alaska, Hawaii, New Hampshire, New Jersey and Wyoming) and in the five jurisdictions of American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands*, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. In Maine, the attorney general is selected by secret ballot of the legislature, and in Tennessee, by the state Supreme Court. In the District of Columbia, the mayor appoints the attorney general.*
As chief legal officers of the states, commonwealths, and territories of the United States, the attorneys general serve as counselors to state government agencies and legislatures, and as representatives of the public interest. It is often said that attorneys general occupy the intersection of law and public policy, dealing in areas as diverse as child support enforcement, drug policy, and environmental protection.
In many areas traditionally considered the exclusive responsibility of the federal government, the attorneys general now share enforcement authority. Indeed, a major trend of the last several years has been the increasingly cooperative working relationships the attorneys general have forged with their federal counterparts, particularly in the areas of trade regulation, environmental enforcement, and criminal justice.
Typical powers of the attorneys general, while varying from one jurisdiction to the next due to statutory and constitutional mandates, now include the authority to: institute civil suits; represent state agencies; defend and/or challenge the constitutionality of legislative or administrative actions; enforce open meetings and records laws; revoke corporate charters; enforce antitrust prohibitions against monopolistic enterprises; and enforce air, water pollution, and hazardous waste laws. In a majority of states, handle criminal appeals and serious state-wide criminal prosecutions; intervene in public utility rate cases; and enforce the provisions of charitable trusts.
*Beginning with the November 2014 elections, residents of the District of Columbia and the Northern Mariana Islands will elect their attorney general.
Dedication – To provide outstanding support to the Association’s members as they serve the people of their state, territory, and district.
Integrity – To adhere to the highest level of personal and professional ethics in every endeavor of the Association.
Collaboration/Cooperation – To seek the views and experiences of the Association membership on issues the Association addresses and to provide them with opportunities for sharing their thoughts and insights.
Collegiality – To establish and maintain an atmosphere of respect and inclusiveness for all members of the Association.
Accountability – To remember at all times that every member of the Association is accountable to the people of their state, territory, and district which carries over to the business and practices of the Association.
The purpose of the Association is to provide a forum for the exchange of views and experiences on subjects of importance to the chief legal officers of the states and other jurisdictions that are members of the Association; to foster interstate and state/federal cooperation on legal and law enforcement issues; to conduct policy research and analysis of issues pertaining to law enforcement and the law; to improve the quality of legal services provided to the states and territories; and to facilitate communications between the states’ chief legal officers and all levels of government.
The Executive Committee
The Executive Committee of the Association is charged with the leadership of Association operations. The Executive Committee comprises the four NAAG officers, four regional delegates, three presidential appointees and chair of the Mission Foundation.
NAAG holds three annual membership meetings each year in the spring, summer and winter, where the attorneys general conduct the business of the Association, including the consideration and adoption of NAAG policy positions and the holding of meetings of its committees. Where an interim position is necessary, the Executive Committee may take action. In addition, issues may be raised, discussed, and studied at seminars and other Committee and Subcommittee meetings and may be referred to the Executive Committee and the full Association for formal consideration.
The Association elects its officers yearly through geographical rotation by region. Election of the four officers - president, president-elect, vice president, and immediate past president - takes place at the annual NAAG Summer Meeting. The president appoints all standing and special committee chairs. Committees are charged with studying all substantive matters within their jurisdiction and recommending policy positions and other matters to the attorneys general for action by the full Association.