opening

Slatery tells colleagues he won’t seek another term as Tennessee Attorney General

State Attorney General Herbert Slatery, right, speaks with Rep. Jerry Sexton (R-Bean Station) on the House floor in Nashville on Feb. 3, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery has informed his staff he won’t seek a second eight-year term this fall, The Tennessee Journal has learned.

Slatery was the chief legal counsel to then-Gov. Bill Haslam when he was named attorney general in 2014. Tennessee is the only state where the state’s top lawyer is appointed by Supreme Court.

Slatery surprised observers last year by taking a vocal stand against a legislative effort to to insert state lawmakers into the selection process by giving them power to approve or reject the high court’s nominees. The constitutional amendment sponsored by Sen. Ken Yager (R-Kingston), the General Assembly cleared all but the final hurdle to making it onto the ballot this year. But the measure failed in the House Civil Justice Subcommittee in March.

Speaking at Nashville Rotary in October, Slatery said the change would contribute to the attorney general becoming a “political office.” Lawmakers already have the power to turn back executive decisions via the simple majority needed to override gubernatorial vetoes, Slatery said, and now “they want to control this, too.”

UPDATE: Slatery spokeswoman Samantha Fisher confirms Slatery informed colleagues of plans to retire.

UPDATE 2: Here’s the note Slatery wrote to staff:

Hello Everybody,  I want you to know that after much thought, discussion, prayer and seeking of advice, I sent a letter to the Supreme Court today advising them that I do not plan on applying to be re-appointed.  I wish I could tell all of you in person, but there will be a better time for that and communicating my gratitude to you for helping us continue to build a fine AG Office.  You are a very special group of people.  It has been an honor to be the Attorney General and Reporter, one I could never fully describe.  Words just would not do it justice.  Some of you have seen a number of AG transitions (and I may need your coaching 😊) but I can assure you that come September 1 someone of the highest caliber will step into this role.  Our Court knows how to do this.  Until then let’s keep a steady hand on the wheel.  With great respect, Herbert