James E. Nugent

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James Edward "Jim" Nugent
Texas Railroad Commissioner
In office
Governor Bill Clements (1979-1983); (1987-1991)
Mark White (1983-1987)
Ann Richards (1991-1995)
Preceded by Jon Newton
Succeeded by Charles R. Matthews
Texas State Representative from District 56 (Gillespie, Kerr, Kimble, Llano, Mason, Menard, Real, San Saba, Schleicher, and Uvalde counties)
In office
Preceded by Joseph Burkett
Succeeded by Gerald Geistweidt
Personal details
Born June 24, 1922
San Angelo, Texas
Died July 17, 2016 (aged 94)
Austin, Texas
Resting place Texas State Cemetery
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Billie Louise Merritt Nugent (died 2002)

Billie Nan Nugent, formerly Billie Cotten

Calvin "Skip" Trammell, Jr (stepson)
Residence Kerrville, Kerr County, Texas
Alma mater

Schreiner College

University of Texas Law School
Occupation Lawyer
Military service
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch  United States Navy
Rank Flier
Battles/wars World War II

James Edward "Jim" Nugent (June 24, 1922 – July 17, 2016)[1] was an American politician and a member of the Democratic Party in the U.S. state of Texas. His most recent position was from 1979 to 1995 as a member of the Texas Railroad Commission, which regulates the state's energy industries.[2]

Political life[edit]

Nugent graduated in 1941 from Schreiner College in Kerrville, Texas. He then attended from 1946 to 1949 the University of Texas School of Law in Austin, from which he received his Juris Doctor degree. That same year, he became the county attorney in his native Kerr County, a position that he retained until 1954.[2]

From 1961 to 1979, Nugent was a member of the Texas House of Representatives from District 56, previously designated by several other numbers. Nugent served as Speaker Pro Tem in his last legislative term from 1977 to 1979.[3]

In 1973, Representative Nugent was the author of the 215-page House Bill 1, designed to establish procedures for transparency in state government. The measure forced candidates to make their incomes public information. They were also required to reveal detailed information on their campaign expenses. The law also allowed greater public access to government meetings and records. It was not a reaction to the 1972 banking fraud scandal known as Sharpstown but had been introduced in several previous sessions. Nugent said that he did not object to money in campaigns. "We all needed money to run our campaigns. I just thought the public was better off knowing where everybody was getting their money. I just don't think the Legislature wanted it passed," Nugent said.[4]

In 1978, Nugent was first elected to an unexpired four-year term on the Railroad Commission to succeed fellow Democrat Jon Newton. He was reelected to full six-year terms in 1982 and 1988.[5]

However, on November 8, 1994, Nugent was narrowly unseated by the Republican Charles R. Matthews, a former mayor of Garland, Texas. Matthews led with 2,046,614 votes (49.8 percent) to Nugent's 1,978,759 (48.1 percent). A third candidate, Libertarian Rich Draheim, held the remaining 84,769 (2.1 percent) of the ballots cast.[6]


Nugent was married to the former Billie Louise Merritt (1921-2002), who is interred in Austin at the Texas State Cemetery, which is open to state legislators and certain other government officials and their spouses. Mrs. Nugent was previously married to Calvin Cocke Trammell, Sr. (1921-1962). In 1956, after a divorce, she married Nugent, and the couple had a daughter in Kerrville, Billie Nan Nugent (born 1959). Nugent's stepson is Calvin "Skip" Trammell, Jr. (born 1943), also a Kerrville native.[7]

Bille Nan Nugent's former husband, Joe Cotten (born c. 1951) of Frisco ran unsuccessfully as a Republican for the Railroad Commission in the 2012 primary election. He attributed his relationship to James Nugent, his former father-in-law as having inspired him to make the race.[8] In 2014, Cotten ran unsuccessfully for Texas Commissioner of Agriculture in the Republican primary to fill the seat being vacated by the incumbent Todd Staples, who is running instead for lieutenant governor. His opponents were former State Representatives Tommy Merritt of Longview and Sid Miller of Stephenville, Mayor J. Allen Carnes of Uvalde, and Eric Opelia, the former executive director of the Texas Republican Party.


  1. ^ http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/dallasmorningnews/obituary.aspx?pid=180727743
  2. ^ a b "Schreiner University: Former Students". schreiner.edu. Archived from the original on May 24, 2012. Retrieved May 11, 2012. 
  3. ^ "James E. Nugent". lrl.state.tx.us. Retrieved May 11, 2012. 
  4. ^ "Mark Lisheron, "Author of sweeping ethics bill Jim Nugent reflects on political climate around 1973 ethics legislation and spousal loophole," July 13, 2010". texaswatchdog.org. Retrieved May 11, 2012. 
  5. ^ "Railroad Commissioners Past through Present". rrc.state.tx.us. Archived from the original on May 1, 2012. Retrieved May 11, 2012. 
  6. ^ "Texas Secretary of State, General election results, November 8, 1994". elections.sos.state.tx.us. Archived from the original on November 8, 2006. Retrieved May 11, 2012. 
  7. ^ "Descendants of Sherwood Merritt". familytreemaker.genealogy.com. Retrieved May 11, 2012. 
  8. ^ "Joe Cotten, Republican from Frisco". bizjournals.com. Retrieved February 21, 2014. 
Political offices
Preceded by
Jon Newton
Texas Railroad Commissioner
Succeeded by
Charles R. Matthews
Preceded by
Joseph Burkett
Texas State Representative from Kerr County
Succeeded by
Gerald Geistweidt