Georgia's Advocate

He’s a lot more, but Sam Olens is basically a good guy. Georgia’s Republican attorney general, in the middle of his second term, is a plays-well-with-others, roll-up-your-sleeves-and-get-to-work consensus-builder, a lawyer’s lawyer who is quick to share credit and gives every sign of loving what he does.

“What greater honor can there be for an attorney than to represent the state?” Olens asks.

He and his staff have worked with the governor – no open hostilities between the two offices as in some other states – and the General Assembly to toughen penalties for sex traffickers and strengthen sunshine laws; they are immersed in a program to alert citizens – young ones in particular – to the dangers of prescription drug abuse. They are also recovering funds paid for fraudulent Medicaid claims and gearing up to attack identity theft and shore up cyber security.

For his work leading Georgia’s Department of Law and his focus on matters that affect the well-being of Georgia citizens, Attorney General Sam Olens is Georgia Trend’s 2016 Georgian of the Year.

Prior to his first statewide race in 2010, there was speculation that Olens, a former chairman of the Cobb County Commission and the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC), might run for governor in what was a pretty crowded field. Instead, he opted for attorney general.

“I was at the point as Cobb County Commission chairman where I loved the job and loved the people,” Olens says, “but I frankly missed not being more involved with the law.” It was also, he says, a rare opportunity, the first time in nearly 50 years there was an open seat for attorney general – no strong incumbent – something that had not happened since the time of Arthur Bolton, who served from 1965 until 1981 when he retired. (Mike Bowers, appointed by Gov. George Busbee to replace Bolton, resigned in 1997 to run for governor; Gov. Zell Miller then appointed Thurbert Baker, who resigned in January 2011 to make his own unsuccessful gubernatorial run.)

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RAGA: Fighter