Alberto R. Gonzales

Alberto R. Gonzales Biography.com

Government Official, Lawyer(1955–)
Lawyer, and former U.S. attorney general Alberto R. Gonzales made history in 2005 as the first Hispanic appointed U.S. attorney general.

Synopsis

Alberto R. Gonzales was born August 4, 1955, in San Antonio, Texas. The son of a construction worker, he rose to become U.S. attorney general, and was sworn in in 2005. Not long after, he faced scrutiny for firing several U.S. attorneys. The firings became the subject of a Senate Judiciary Committee in 2007. A few months later, however, Gonzales decided to step down.

Early Life

Lawyer and former U.S. attorney general Alberto R. Gonzales was born on August 4, 1955, in San Antonio, Texas. The son of a construction worker, Gonzales rose to one of the top positions in the U.S. government—the U.S. attorney general. He grew up in Houston and joined the U.S. Air Force in 1973 after graduating high school. Following a few years of service, Gonzales attended the U.S. Air Force Academy. Leaving the military, he went to Rice University, completing his bachelor's degree in 1979.

Political Career

Continuing to strive academically and professionally, Gonzales went on to study at Harvard Law School where he earned his degree in 1982. He then joined a well-known private law firm in Texas where he practiced corporate law. In 1995, Gonzales accepted a position with the then-governor of Texas, George W. Bush, to serve as his general counsel. Bush later selected him to be the 100th secretary of state for Texas, a position he held from 1997 to 1999. As secretary of state, Gonzales served as chief elections officer and the head liaison on border issues among other responsibilities. In 1999, he was appointed to the Supreme Court of Texas.

Moving to Washington, D.C., Gonzales renewed his strong ties to Bush, joining his staff as his legal counsel in 2001. Four years later, he made history as the first Hispanic appointed U.S. attorney general. He was sworn in on February 3, 2005.

Controversy

Unfortunately, not long after his tenure began, Gonzales started to face scrutiny regarding some of his actions, most notably the firing of several U.S. attorneys and his defense of Bush's domestic eavesdropping program.

The firings became the subject of a Senate Judiciary Committee in 2007. Concerns about the veracity of some of his statements as well as his general competency also began surface. Democrats began calling for his resignation and for more investigations, but President Bush defended his appointee, saying that Gonzales was "an honest, honorable man in whom I have confidence," according to an Associated Press report from April.

Resignation

A few months later, however, Gonzales decided to step down. On August 27, he gave a brief statement announcing his resignation, stating that "It has been one of my greatest privileges to lead the Department of Justice." He gave no explanation for his departure. President Bush also released a statement, which said, in part, "It's sad that we live in a time when a talented and honorable person... is impeded from doing important work because his good name was dragged through the mud for political reasons."

His resignation was effective as of September 17, 2007. In his resignation letter, he said that "...this is the right time for my family and I to begin a new chapter in our lives." He and his wife Rebecca have three sons.

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