Tom Miller — the longest serving state attorney general in U.S. history — will be leaving office on January 1, 2023.
“I’m not going to fully retire, but I’m going to try and do things part time and do things that I enjoy doing and also take some time off,” Miller said during a Radio Iowa interview. “As I said on Election Night, I’ve been working pretty much straight since I graduated from law school.”
Miller, a 78-year-old Dubuque native, graduated from Harvard Law School in 1969. Last month, he lost his campaign for an 11th term. Republican Brenna Bird will become Iowa’s attorney general on January 2.
Miller was a lawyer in McGregor and the city attorney for both McGregor and Marquette when he was first elected attorney general in 1978.
“I ran the first time as a 29 year old, an idealistic 29 year old,” Miller said. “The combination of law and public policy motivated me. I could be in a public position and still function as a lawyer in a lot of ways, so a very attractive office to me then and now and in-between.”
Miller ran unsuccessfully for governor in 1990, then won reelection as attorney general in 1994. “You know maybe this thing worked out right for me,” Miller said, “that I didn’t win that race and came back and have had this just incredible tenure as attorney general.”
Miller worked on the national tobacco settlement in the 1990s and more recently was the lead attorney general who won legal settlements for multiple states from mortgage lenders and Microsoft. He’s also argued two cases before the U.S. Supreme Court.
“It was a really strong, good 40 years,” Miller said. “I believe that we’ve had this good staff. They worked hard. We set priorities. We tackled a lot of issues…I did what I believed was right. I honored my principles and my values.”
Miller just completed a year-long term as president of the bipartisan National Association of Attorneys General. Earlier this month, the group created an annual “unity award” and gave it to Miller, a Democrat, and a Republican attorney general from Idaho who Miller describes as his “best friend.”
“Just elated for a number of reasons,” Miller said. “One — it was a surprise and a special award.”
The award has been named in honor of Miller and five-term Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden, who earlier this year lost his bid for re-election in a Republican primary.