J. Robert Wooley

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James Robert Wooley
Louisiana Commissioner of Insurance
In office
October 2000 – February 15, 2006
Preceded by James H. "Jim" Brown
Succeeded by Jim Donelon
Personal details
Born (1953-12-07) December 7, 1953 (age 61)
Natchitoches, Louisiana, USA
Nationality American
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Peggy Cross Wooley
Children Derek, Morgan, Cameron, and Savannah Wooley; Step Children: Sally Carlisle, Bo Stevens, Anna Stevens
Residence Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Alma mater University of Louisiana at Monroe

Louisiana State University Law School

Occupation Lawyer and consultant

James Robert Wooley, known as J. Robert Wooley (born December 7, 1953), is an attorney in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, who served as a Democrat as his state's insurance commissioner from 2003 to 2006. He was also the acting commissioner from 2000 to 2003.


Wooley was born in Natchitoches in 1953. At the time of his birth, his family was living in Alexandria, where his father was principal of what is now the Louisiana Special Education Center. His parents drove to Natchitoches for Robert's birth, so that he would be born in the same clinic as his older brother.[1]

Wooley attended Ouachita Parish High School in Monroe, where his father headed another educational institution for children with special needs. After he graduated from high school in 1971, he attended the University of Louisiana at Monroe, from which he received a degree in business administration in 1974. He obtained his law degree in 1977 from the Paul M. Hebert Law Center at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.[1]

Wooley briefly practiced law in Opelousas, but relocated to Vidalia in eastern Louisiana to engage in practice law with then State Senator James H. "Jim" Brown, a Democrat.[1]

Political career[edit]

Wooley worked to elect Brown as Louisiana Secretary of State in 1979[1] in an upset victory over Sandra Thompson of Monroe, a well-known state administrator for the right to succeed Paul J. Hardy of St. Martin Parish, an unsuccessful gubernatorial candidate later elected in 1987 as lieutenant governor. While Brown served eight years as secretary of state, Wooley ran a consulting firm in Baton Rouge.[1]

In 1991, Brown was handily elected insurance commissioner[2] after the scandals of the preceding administration of Commissioner Douglas D. "Doug Green. After nine years in the position, Brown was suspended in October 2000 because of federal indictments against him. Cleared of those indictments, Brown still served a six-month sentence at the Federal Correctional Institution in Oakdale, Louisiana, on conviction of having lied to an agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation regarding an insurance company, a claim that he sought to refute in his book Justice Denied.[3]

Wooley served as Brown's assistant commissioner from 1999 to 2000 and then became the acting commissioner for three years. Wooley won the position himself in the general election held on November 15, 2003. He defeated the Republican candidate, Dan Kyle, the former state legislative auditor. Wooley received 773,578 votes (57.7 percent) to Kyle's 567,034 (42.3 percent). In that same election, the Democrat Kathleen Babineaux Blanco defeated the Republican gubernatorial choice, Bobby Jindal,[4] who rebounded four years later to claim the state's highest constitutional office.

Return to private life[edit]

Wooley resigned as commissioner on February 15, 2006, to take a legal position with the firm Adams and Reese in Baton Rouge, which also employs former Speaker of the Louisiana House of Representatives E. L. "Bubba" Henry.[5]Jim Donelon, a Republican former member of the Louisiana House of Representatives and Wooley's first deputy, whom he appointed in 2001, succeeded to the commissioner's post under terms of the Louisiana State Constitution of 1974. Donelon won the office in a special election held in the fall of 2006 by defeating Republican State Senator James David Cain of Beauregard Parish.[6]

Wooley and his wife, the former Peggy Cross of Hammond, Louisiana, have a combination of seven children and nine grandchildren.

Wooley is a sailing enthusiast who holds a 100-ton master's license from the United States Coast Guard and has raced sailboats across the Caribbean Sea.[1] In 2003 he said that he had sold his 31-foot (9.4 m) sailboat because his job as insurance commissioner did not allow him time for his sailing hobby. At one time he owned a recreational trawler.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Mike Hasten, "Louisiana insurance commissioner's race Wooley turns temporary job into a mission", November 7, 2003". capitolwatch.reallouisiana.com. Retrieved June 18, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Louisiana general election returns, November 16, 1991". staticresults.sos.la.gov. Retrieved June 16, 2013. 
  3. ^ "Jim Bradshaw, "Louisiana's seen several jailed state officials", October 2002". capitolwatch.reallouisiana.com. Retrieved June 15, 2013. 
  4. ^ "Louisiana general election returns, November 15, 2003". staticresults.sos.la.gov. Retrieved June 18, 2013. 
  5. ^ "Former Louisiana Commissioner of Insurance - J. Robert Wooley Joins Adams and Reese, February 20, 2006". adamsandreese.com. Retrieved June 17, 2013. 
  6. ^ "Louisiana primary election returns, September 30, 2006". staticresults.sos.la.gov. Retrieved June 17, 2013. 
Preceded by
James H. "Jim" Brown
Louisiana Commissioner of Insurance

James Robert Wooley

Succeeded by
Jim Donelon