Bill Sorrell: Bold vision. Big results.
Bill Sorrell has earned a reputation as one of Vermont’s most dedicated and effective public servants. When you look at Bill’s record, it’s no wonder Vermonters have decided — seven times — to send him back to Montpelier to keep up the fight for Vermont.
Why am I running for re-election?
I believe the Office of Attorney General is among the most important elected positions in Vermont or any state. With a responsibility to seek justice for all, integrity, energy and competence of the Attorney General are key to the security of our citizens and their confidence in the fairness of the enforcement of our laws.
The Attorney General wears two hats: to represent the interests of the government in a wide range of court proceedings and to represent the general welfare of all the people. When these two interests are in conflict, the Attorney General must strive to see that both interests are protected and well-represented.
I invite you to peruse the website of the Office of the Vermont Attorney General. There you will see helpful information and examples of the work performed by me and the many fine people who work for me. There is ample proof that during my tenure as AG, whether in the areas of criminal law enforcement, consumer protection, civil rights enforcement or environmental protection, I have taken my responsibilities most seriously.
I hope the voters of Vermont will continue to strongly support my efforts and allow me to continue doing this important work.
The Early Years
Bill was born and raised in Burlington, Vermont and received his AB, magna cum laude, in 1970 from the University of Notre Dame, then earned his Juris Doctor from Cornell Law School in 1974. Bill worked for over 10 years in private practice at McNeil, Murray & Sorrell.
Chittenden County State’s Attorney
During his two stints as Chittenden County State’s Attorney, Bill personally prosecuted many successful cases before Vermont juries.
- Bill received national media attention for successfully prosecuting the first Vermont state court case in which DNA evidence was permitted to be introduced.
- Bill prosecuted what was then an approximately ten year old missing person’s case. Bill brought a murder charge against the former boyfriend of the Milton School District teacher who had disappeared. The case was particularly unusual since the victim’s body had not been found. The defendant, Francis Malinosky, was arrested in California, preliminarily avowed his innocence, but ultimately led police to the victim’s body.
- As State’s Attorney, Bill implemented the nationally-recognized Chittenden Unit for Special Investigations, a county wide collection of specially trained police officers, victims’ advocates and other professionals, specializing in sex crimes and severe cases of child abuse.
The Dean Administration
In the summer of 1992, Bill joined the Dean Administration Secretary of Administration. This is the senior cabinet position in Vermont State Government. The Secretary is the chief spokesperson for the Governor on a broad range of issues in the Statehouse, including the state budget.
Bill served as Secretary for nearly five years. When Bill took over, Vermont was awash in red ink, had no money in its rainy day fund and had to borrow to meet its operating expenses. During those five years of difficult budget challenges, Vermont managed to not only get out of debt but at the same time maintain its strong safety net, expand health care for low and moderate income Vermonters, preserve vast tracks of Vermont land from commercial development and create a raining day fund to help the state weather difficult economic times.
Vermont Attorney General
Fighting Corporate Greed
As Attorney General, Bill has worked tirelessly to take on out-of-state corporations that shirk their responsibilities to Vermont and Vermonters. His willingness to take on these powerful interests earned him the label “giant killer” from the Vermont Medical Society.
Taking on Big Tobacco: For decades Big Tobacco lied about the addictive qualities of cigarettes – marketing their products to our children and causing millions of Vermont taxpayer dollars to be spent treating tobacco-related illnesses. Within weeks of taking office, Bill stood up for Vermonters and brought suit against these corporations to end their deceitful practices.
The lawsuit resulted in a historic settlement with Big Tobacco that to date has yielded over $300 million dollars for Vermont taxpayers; and, as a result of Bill’s leadership, Big Tobacco will continue to pay Vermont approximately $25 million dollars a year in perpetuity.
Bill’s fight did not end there. He successfully stopped Big Tobacco’s attempt to include cigarette advertising in national magazines sent to Vermont school children and scored a resounding victory against RJ Reynolds in a closely watched lawsuit attacking the marketing of the company’s so-called “reduced risk” cigarettes.
Fighting to Make Entergy Louisiana Keep Its Word: Vermont Yankee is one of the oldest nuclear power plants in the country and Vermonters have lost faith in the trustworthiness of Entergy Louisiana’s executives. Which is why Bill has decided to continue this fight on to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals and, if necessary, to the United States Supreme Court.
Standing up to Big Banks: In 2012 Bill secured $6.7 million for Vermont in a multi-state settlement with five of the nation’s largest servicing banks. The settlement covers some of the banks’ misconduct that led to the housing crisis.
Protecting Our Environment
With Bill’s help Vermont has become a national leader in national anti-pollution efforts.
Air Pollution: Bill joined litigation against American Electric Power, a major contributor to acid rain problems in Vermont and in other areas of the Northeast. The settlement of the case is the largest settlement of an environmental pollution case in our nation’s history and, when fully implemented, will have a dramatically positive effect on our air and water quality.
Auto Emissions: Bill successfully defended Vermont’s strict auto-emission standards (the so-called “California Standard”) against attack by the nation’s auto industry. The verdict represented a huge victory in the fight to reverse the effects global warming and increase the fuel economy of our motor vehicles.
Making Vermont Safer
Child Pornography: Bill has made it a priority to protect Vermont’s kids and make our communities safer by working to stop the flow of child pornography into our state. Bill successfully lobbied the Vermont Legislature to secured $200,000 of new funding to help continue his fight against child predators.
Consumer Protection: Bill fought to protect Vermonters from lead paint exposure by working aggressively with landlords — filing suit when necessary — to rid lead paint from our state’s older rental housing.
Criminal Prosecutions: Under Bill’s leadership the Attorney General’s Criminal Division has aggressively and successfully prosecuted cases across the state, including some of the state’s most high profile murder cases, multiple victim sexual assault cases, infant abuse deaths, drug diversion by health care workers and corruption by elected officials.
Additional Accomplishments and Awards
In June, 2004, Sorrell began a one year term as President of the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) and in June of 2003 he was chosen by his fellow Attorneys General to receive NAAG’s Kelley-Wyman Award, given annually to the “Outstanding Attorney General.”
Sorrell served a maximum term of six years as a member and then Chair of the Board of the American Legacy Foundation. In appreciation for his service, in 2008 the Foundation endowed the William H. Sorrell Lecture Series, funding an annual address on tobacco control issues at a NAAG meeting. He has served as a member of Vermont’s Judicial Nominating Board, as president of United Cerebral Palsy of Vermont, secretary of the Vermont Coalition of the Handicapped and a member of the Board of the Winooski Valley Park District. He currently serves as chair of the Board of the NAAG Mission Foundation.
Sorrell was recognized by the Coalition for a Tobacco Free Vermont as Tobacco Control Champion in 2003, in 2009 as Citizen of the Year by the Vermont Medical Society and in 2010 by the National Humane Society with its Humane Law Enforcement Award.