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. 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.
NAAG’s Mission Statement: The National Association of Attorneys General serves as the national forum for attorneys general and their staff to collaboratively and effectively address issues important to their work and provides resources to support the work of the offices of attorneys general in protecting the Rule of Law and the United States Constitution.
The Attorneys General
The attorney general is popularly elected in 43 states, as well as in Guam, the District of Columbia and the Northern Mariana Islands. The attorney general is appointed by the governor in five states (Alaska, Hawaii, New Hampshire, New Jersey and Wyoming) and in the three jurisdictions of American Samoa, 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.
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. The specific functions of an attorney general’s office vary from one jurisdiction to the next due to statutory and constitutional mandates. However, the most common and most important functions are control of litigation concerning the state; acting as the chief legal officer of the state; providing formal opinions to clarify the law; public advocacy; criminal law enforcement, primarily on the appellate level; law reform and legislative advocacy; and investigative authority.
While many topics of activity remained the same over the years, such as antitrust, habeas corpus, and criminal law enforcement, new areas of interest have arisen that reflect society’s changing needs and demands. This includes the tobacco Master Settlement Agreement in the 1990s, cyberspace law in the 2000s, and consumer financial protection in the 2010s.
Dedication – To provide outstanding support to the Association’s members and their staffs as they serve the people of their state, territory, and district.
Integrity – To adhere to the highest level of personal and professional ethics in all Association endeavors, remembering that every member of the Association is accountable to the people of their state, territory or district.
Collaboration and Cooperation – To seek the views and experiences of the Association membership on issues the Association addresses and to provide members with opportunities to share their knowledge, experiences and insights.
Engagement and Inclusiveness – To provide a forum where every Association member can engage his or her colleagues on matters of mutual interest in a congenial atmosphere of trust and respect in which inclusiveness is always the goal.
Leadership, Listening, and Understanding - To encourage and facilitate the exercise of thoughtful, virtuous, courageous and committed leadership in historical and contemporary context for the common good and for transcendent purposes, even at member’s or members’ conscious choice of facing controversy
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 two annual membership meetings each year in December and in the spring during which attorneys general conduct Association business, including the consideration and adoption of NAAG policy positions and holding 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 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 Capital Forum in Washington, D.C. each December. 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.