William L. Webster

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William Webster
William L. Webster.jpg
39th Attorney General of Missouri
In office
January 14, 1985 – January 11, 1993
Governor John Ashcroft
Preceded by John Ashcroft
Succeeded by Jay Nixon
Personal details
Born (1953-09-17) September 17, 1953 (age 64)
Carthage, Missouri, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Susan Webster
Alma mater Missouri Southern State University
University of Kansas, Lawrence
University of Missouri, Kansas City

William Lawrence Webster (born September 17, 1953) is an American former politician, and convicted felon, from Missouri. He served in the Missouri House of Representatives and as the Attorney General of Missouri from 1985 to 1993. After failing to win election as Governor in 1992, Webster pleaded guilty to felony embezzlement.

Early life and career[edit]

William Lawrence Webster is the son of the late Richard M. Webster, who was a prominent Missouri State Senator, and Janet Webster. Webster was born and raised in Carthage, Missouri and was a graduate of Carthage Senior High School. He attended Missouri Southern State College and the University of Kansas. He received his law degree from the University of Missouri–Kansas City.

After earning his law degree, Webster worked as an attorney in private practice in Joplin, Missouri. He married the former Susan Tiemann of Kansas City and they have three sons.

Political career[edit]

Webster was elected to Missouri House of Representatives in 1980 and re-elected in 1982. He was recognized as the outstanding first term representative by the Missouri Times in 1981 and in 1983 his colleagues recognized him as one of three outstanding members of the House of Representatives.

In 1984, at the age of 31, he was elected as Attorney General of Missouri, succeeding John Ashcroft. Webster was the youngest person to serve in that position since Robert Franklin Walker was elected as attorney general in 1892, also at the age of 31. Webster was re-elected in 1988.

Webster was the defendant of record in the Webster v. Reproductive Health Services case before the United States Supreme Court in 1989. The court ultimately decided in favor of Webster, representing the state of Missouri.

In 1992, Webster was the Republican nominee for Governor of Missouri, after defeating Roy Blunt and Wendell Bailey in the Republican Primary. The campaign for governor was marked by allegations of corruption relating to a state workers compensation fund that Webster managed as attorney general. Amidst the scandal, Webster lost the general election to Democrat Mel Carnahan by a wide margin.


In 1993, Webster pleaded guilty to felony embezzlement charges and was sentenced to two years in prison. Webster's re-election campaign had received unusually large contributions from firms making claims against a little-known $30 million workers' compensation fund, which Webster had defended by appointing private lawyers as special assistant state attorneys general. Lawyers who contributed to Webster obtained substantially larger settlements for their clients than those lawyers who did not contribute.[1] Ultimately, Webster plead guilty to two federal felony charges of conspiracy and embezzlement related to abusing his position as Attorney General by using his state staff and office equipment for political purposes.[2]


  1. ^ How Post reporter uncovered Second Injury Fund scandal, St. Louis Journalism Review, March 1, 1994.
  2. ^ "The rise and fall of Bill Webster's golden career". Post-Dispatch. 6 June 1993. Retrieved 24 August 2014. 

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
John Ashcroft
Attorney General of Missouri
Succeeded by
Jay Nixon
Party political offices
Preceded by
John Ashcroft
Republican nominee for Governor of Missouri
Succeeded by
Margaret Kelly