Greg Abbott

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This article is about the politician. For other people with the same name, see Greg Abbott (disambiguation).
Greg Abbott
Greg Abbott by Gage Skidmore.jpg
50th Attorney General of Texas
Assumed office
December 2, 2002
Governor Rick Perry
Preceded by John Cornyn
Associate Justice of the Texas Supreme Court
In office
Preceded by Jack Hightower
Succeeded by Xavier Rodriguez
Personal details
Born Gregory Wayne Abbott
(1957-11-13) November 13, 1957 (age 56)
Wichita Falls, Texas, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Cecilia Phalen (1982–present)
Children Audrey (Adopted)[1]
Alma mater University of Texas, Austin
Vanderbilt University
Religion Roman Catholicism
Website Official website

Gregory Wayne Abbott, known as Greg Abbott[2] (born November 13, 1957), is an American lawyer and politician. He is the 50th Attorney General of Texas and the Republican gubernatorial nominee in the general election scheduled on November 4, 2014.

Abbott is only the second Republican to serve as Attorney General of Texas since Reconstruction. Abbott was sworn in on December 2, 2002, following fellow Republican John Cornyn's election to the U.S. Senate. Prior to assuming the office of attorney general, Abbott was a justice on the Texas Supreme Court, a position to which he was initially appointed in 1995 by then-Governor George W. Bush. He is noted outside the state of Texas for successfully advocating the right of the state of Texas to display the Ten Commandments in front of the state Capitol in Austin in a 2005 United States Supreme Court case known as Van Orden v. Perry.

Early life, education, and early law career[edit]

Abbott was born on November 13, 1957 in Wichita Falls, Texas and was reared in Duncanville in Dallas County. He graduated from Duncanville High School.[3]

In 1981, he earned a Bachelor of Business Administration in finance from the University of Texas at Austin, where he was a member of the Delta Tau Delta fraternity. In 1984, he earned his law degree from the Vanderbilt University Law School in Nashville, Tennessee.

He went into private practice, working for Butler and Binion, LLC between 1984 and 1992. Abbott’s political career began in Houston, where he served as a state trial judge in the 129th District Court for three years.

Abbott became a paraplegic when an oak tree fell on him while he was running following a storm in 1984.[4][5] He had two steel rods implanted in his spine, underwent extensive rehabilitation at TIRR Memorial Hermann in Houston, and has used a wheelchair ever since.[6][7] He sued the homeowner and won an insurance settlement worth more than $10 million.[8] Abbott later championed laws capping punitive damages like those for which he was eligible in his own suit to two times the amount of economic damages awarded plus $750,000.[9] While the current law caps punitive damages, which are meant to punish gross negligence or bad faith, the law still allows payments for medical costs, potential lost wages, economic damages and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life. Matt Hirsch, a spokesman for the Abbott campaign, said the attorney general did not seek punitive damages in his lawsuit.[10]

Judicial career[edit]

Then-Texas Governor George W. Bush appointed Abbott to the Texas Supreme Court, and he was then twice elected to the state's highest civil court—in 1996 (two-year term) and 1998 (six-year term). In 1996, Abbott had no Democratic opponent but was challenged by Libertarian John B. Hawley of Dallas. Abbott defeated Hawley 84%-16%.[11] In 1998, Abbott defeated Democrat David Van Os 60%-40%.[12]

In 2001, he went back to private practice and worked for Bracewell & Giuliani, LLC.[1] He was also an adjunct professor at University of Texas School of Law.[13]

Attorney General of Texas[edit]

2002 election[edit]

Abbott resigned from the Supreme Court in 2001 to seek the open attorney general's position in 2002. The previous Attorney General John Cornyn vacated the post to run for the U.S. Senate. Abbott defeated the Democratic nominee, former Austin Mayor Kirk Watson, 57%-41%.[14]


Abbott, has described his job as "I go into the office in the morning, I sue Barack Obama, and then I go home."[15]

Abbott has said that the state must not release Tier II Chemical Inventory Reports for security reasons, but that Texan citizens "can ask every facility whether or not they have chemicals or not".[16] Koch Industries has denied that their contributions to Abbott's campaign had anything to do with his ruling against releasing the safety information.[17]

In 2014, Abbott argued against a lawsuit brought by the NRA to allow more people access to concealed carry of firearms, as Abbott felt this would disrupt public safety.[18]

Lawsuit against Sony BMG[edit]

On November 21, 2005, Abbott sued Sony BMG. Texas is the first state in the nation to bring legal action against Sony BMG for illegal spyware. The suit is also the first filed under the state’s spyware law of 2005. It alleges the company surreptitiously installed the spyware on millions of compact music discs (CDs) that consumers inserted into their computers when they play the CDs, which can compromise the systems.[19][20] On December 21, 2005 Abbott added new allegations to his lawsuit against Sony-BMG. Abbott says the MediaMax copy protection technology violates the state's spyware and deceptive trade practices laws. He says Sony-BMG offered consumers a licensing agreement when they bought CDs and played them on their computers. But, Abbott alleges in the lawsuit that even if consumers reject that agreement, spyware is secretly installed on their computers, which pose security risks for music buyers. 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, carry maximum penalties of $20,000 per violation.[21][22]

Van Orden v. Perry[edit]

Main article: Van Orden v. Perry

On March 2, 2005, Abbott appeared before the United States Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., where he defended a Ten Commandments monument on the Texas State Capitol grounds. Dozens of similar monuments were donated to cities and towns across the nation throughout the 1960s by the Fraternal Order of Eagles, who were inspired by the 1956 epic The Ten Commandments; in doing so, they gained the support of the film's director Cecil B. DeMille.[23] The Supreme Court held in a 5-4 majority opinion, found the Texas display did not violate the Establishment Clause and was constitutional.

2006 election[edit]

In the November 7 general election, Abbott was challenged by civil rights attorney David Van Os, who had been his Democratic opponent in the 1998 election for state Supreme Court. He won re-election to a second term 60%-37%.[24]

2010 election[edit]

Abbott ran for an unprecedented third term. Abbott also campaigned for other Republican candidates in 2010 including Jim Landtroop, the Plainview insurance agent. While on his Plainview stop, Abbott cited his and Landtroop's mutual opposition to the health care plan signed into law in March 2010 by President Barack Obama.[25] He handily defeated the Democratic attorney Barbara Ann Radnofsky of Houston and, once again, the Libertarian Jon Roland. Radnofsky was also the unsuccessful Democratic candidate opposing U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison in the 2006 general election. Abbott defeated Radnofsky 64%-34%.[26] He is the longest-serving Texas Attorney General in Texas history.

2014 election for governor[edit]

On July 8, 2013, Governor Rick Perry announced that he would not seek a fourth full term.[27]

On July 14, 2013, speaking near the Alamo on the 29th anniversary of the accident that left him a paraplegic, Abbott formally announced his intention to run for Governor of Texas in the 2014 Texas gubernatorial election.[28] In the first six months of 2011, he raised more funds for his campaign than any other Texas politician, reaching $1.6 million. The next highest fundraiser among state officeholders was Texas Comptroller Susan Combs with $611,700.[29]

In February 2014, while speaking on the dangers of corruption in law enforcement, Abbott compared the South Texas area to a Third World country[30] that "erodes the social fabric of our communities and destroys Texans' trust and confidence in government."[31] Abbott further said that he does not consider corruption "limited to one region of Texas. ... My plan is to add more resources to eliminate corruption so people can have confidence in their government."[31]

Abbott criticized Ted Nugent's infamous "subhuman mongrel" comment directed at President Barack Obama by saying "This is not the kind of language I would use or endorse in any way. It's time to move beyond this, and I will continue to focus on the issues that matter to Texans."[32]

Abbott won the Republican primary on March 4, 2014, with 1,219,903, or 91.5 percent of the ballots cast. The remaining approximately 103,000 votes were divided among three minor candidates. He now faces state Senator Wendy Davis of Fort Worth, who polled 432,065 votes (79.1 percent) in her Democratic primary contest against a lone opponent.[33]

Abbott promised to "tie outcomes to funding" for pre-K programs if elected governor,[34] but he said he would not require government standardized testing for 4-year olds, as Davis has accused him of advancing.[35] When defending his education plan, Abbott cited Charles Murray: "Family background has the most decisive effect on student achievement, contributing to a large performance gap between children from economically disadvantaged families and those from middle class homes."[36] Abbott pointed out that the biggest difference in spending is that Davis has proposed universal pre-K education, which Abbott sees as "waste", while Abbott wants to limit funding to only programs that meet certain gold standards.[36] Davis' plan could reach $750 million in costs and Abbott has said that Davis' plan is a budget buster whereas Abbott's education plan would cost no more than $118 million.[36]

Overall, Abbott said the reforms that he envisions would "level the playing field for all students [and] target schools which don't have access to the best resources." He has called for increased accessibility to technology in the classroom and mathematics instruction for kindergarten pupils.[31]

Election history[edit]


  1. ^ a b Mildenberg, David and Laurel Brubaker Calkins. Grit Drives Abbott to Follow Perry as Texas Governor, Bloomberg Businessweek, September 19, 2013.
  2. ^ Texas Births Index, 1926-1995,
  3. ^[dead link]
  4. ^ "". Retrieved 2013-10-14. 
  5. ^ Accident set Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott on a path toward politics, May 31, 2010, The Dallas Morning News, Retrieved October 27, 2010
  6. ^ Fernandez, Manny. "Candidate Draws Support and Critics for Talk of Disability" 22 July 2013. The New York Times.
  7. ^ Ackerman, Todd. "Houston rehab giant ready for Giffords." Houston Chronicle. 20 January 2011.
  8. ^ Lawsuit brought Abbott $10 million settlement, October 8, 2002 Austin American-Statesman
  9. ^ Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code, Sec. 41.008(b)
  10. ^ Hoppe, Christy, 2 August 2013, The Dallas Morning News, Retrieved 31 March 2014.[1]
  11. ^ "TX Supreme Court Justice (Place 5) Race - Nov 05, 1996". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2013-10-14. 
  12. ^ "TX Supreme Court Justice (Place 5) Race - Nov 03, 1998". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2013-10-14. 
  13. ^ "Attorney General Greg Abbott's Biography - Project Vote Smart". 1957-11-13. Retrieved 2013-10-14. 
  14. ^ "TX Attorney General Race - Nov 05, 2002". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2013-10-14. 
  15. ^
  16. ^ Root, Jay (1 July 2014). "Abbott: Ask Chemical Plants What's Inside". (The Texas Tribune). Retrieved 1 July 2014. 
  17. ^ SLATER, WAYNE (3 July 2014). "Koch Industries says gifts, Abbott’s chemical ruling not linked". (The Dallas Morning News Inc.). Retrieved 8 July 2014. 
  18. ^ Poppe, Ryan (February 26, 2014). "Supreme Court Won't Hear NRA’s Case For Lowering Conceal-Carry Age Limit". (Texas Public Radio). Retrieved 4 July 2014. 
  19. ^, Archived 28 October 2007 at WebCite
  20. ^ "Texas sues Sony BMG over alleged spyware - CNET News". Retrieved 2013-10-14. 
  21. ^ "". 2005-12-21. Retrieved 2013-10-14. 
  22. ^ "". 2005-12-22. Retrieved 2013-10-14. 
  23. ^ Greenhouse, Linda (February 28, 2005). "The Ten Commandments Reach the Supreme Court". The New York Times (The New York Times Online). Retrieved 2010-02-10. 
  24. ^ "TX Attorney General Race - Nov 07, 2006". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2013-10-14. 
  25. ^ "Texas Attorney General backs candidate in District 85 State Rep. race, October 19, 2010". Retrieved November 5, 2010. 
  26. ^ "TX Attorney General Race - Nov 02, 2010". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2013-10-14. 
  27. ^ "Rick Perry Won't Run for Re-election". The Texas Tribune. Retrieved 2013-10-14. 
  28. ^ [2][dead link]
  29. ^ "Greg Abbott and the Quiet Spot at the Top". The Texas Tribune. Retrieved 2013-10-14. 
  30. ^ "Third-world implications". The Monitor. February 7, 2014. Retrieved 8 February 2014. 
  31. ^ a b c "Texas Gubernatorial Candidate: Greg Abbott speaks about state issues, Laredo Morning Times, May 16, 2014, pp. 1, 14A
  32. ^ "Ted Nugent's comments may hurt Greg Abbott's campaign". Fox News. Retrieved 2014-03-05. 
  33. ^ "Republican primary election returns, March 4, 2014". Retrieved March 6, 2014. 
  34. ^ Alexander, Kate (31 March 2014). "Greg Abbott promotes improving quality of pre-K over expanding access, full-day classes". American-Statesman. Retrieved 7 April 2014. 
  35. ^ Smith, Morgan; Ura, Alexa (8 April 2014). "Abbott Campaign: Pre-K Plan Does Not Mean More Tests". The Texas Tribune. Retrieved 14 April 2014. 
  36. ^ a b c Hoppe, Christy (1 April 2014). "Greg Abbott’s education plan cites controversial thinker on race, gender". The Dallas Morning News. Retrieved 8 April 2014. 
  37. ^ Office of the Secretary of State. 2010 General Election.
  38. ^ Office of the Secretary of State. 2006 General Election. (accessed 15 December 2006)
  39. ^ Office of the Secretary of State. 2002 General Election. (accessed 15 December 2006)
  40. ^ Office of the Secretary of State. 1998 General Election. (accessed 15 December 2006)

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
Jack Hightower
Associate Justice of the Texas Supreme Court
Succeeded by
Xavier Rodriguez
Preceded by
John Cornyn
Attorney General of Texas
Party political offices
Preceded by
Rick Perry
Republican nominee for Governor of Texas
Most recent