James E. Nugent

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James Edward Nugent, known as Jim Nugent (born June 24, 1922), is a retired Democratic politician from the U.S. state of Texas. His most recent political position was from 1979 to 1995 as a member of the Texas Railroad Commission, which regulates his state's energy industries.[1] After attending the private Schreiner University in Kerrville, Texas, From 1946 to 1949, Nugent attended law school at the University of Texas in Austin, from which he received his Juris Doctor degree. That same year, he became the county attorney in his native Kerr County, a position that he retained until 1954.[1] From 1961 to 1979, he was a member of the Texas House of Representatives from District 56, previously designated by several other numbers. Nugent served as Speaker Pro Tem in his last legislative term from 1977 to 1979.[2]

In 1973, Representative Nugent was the author of the 215-page House Bill 1, designed to establish procedures for transparency in state government. The measure forced candidates to make their incomes public information. They were also require to reveal detailed information on their campaign expenses. The law also allowed greater public access to government meetings and records. It was not a reaction to the 1972 banking fraud scandal known as Sharpstown but had been introduced in several previous sessions. “I didn’t object to money in campaigns. We all needed money to run our campaigns. I just thought the public was better off knowing where everybody was getting their money. I just don’t think the Legislature wanted it passed,” Nugent said.[3]

In 1978, Nugent was first elected to an unexpired four-year term on the Railroad Commission to succeed fellow Democrat Jon Newton. He was reelected to full six-year terms in 1982 and 1988.[4] On November 8, 1994, however, Nugent was narrowly unseated by the Republican Charles R. Matthews, a former mayor of Garland in Dallas County, Texas. Matthews led with 2,046,614 votes (49.8 percent) to Nugent's 1,978,759 (48.1 percent). A third candidate, the Libertarian Party nominee, Rich Draheim, held the remaining 84,769 (2.1 percent) of the ballots cast.[5]

Nugent was married to the former Billie Louise Merritt (1921-2002), who is interred in Austin at the Texas State Cemetery, which is open to state legislators and certain other officials and their spouses. Mrs. Nugent was previously married to Calvin Cocke Trammell, Sr. (1921-1962). In 1956, after a divorce, she married Nugent, and the couple had a daughter in Kerrville, Billie Nan Nugent (born 1959). Nugent's stepson is Calvin "Skip" Trammell, Jr. (born 1943), also a Kerrville native.[6]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Schreiner University: Former Students. schreiner.edu. Retrieved on May 11, 2012.
  2. James E. Nugent. lrl.state.tx.us. Retrieved on May 11, 2012.
  3. Mark Lisheron, "Author of sweeping ethics bill Jim Nugent reflects on political climate around 1973 ethics legislation and spousal loophole," July 13, 2010. texaswatchdog.org. Retrieved on May 11, 2012.
  4. Railroad Commissioners Past through Present. rrc.state.tx.us. Retrieved on May 11, 2012.
  5. Texas Secretary of State, General election results, November 8, 1994. elections.sos.state.tx.us. Retrieved on May 11, 2012.
  6. Descendants of Sherwood Merritt. familytreemaker.genealogy.com. Retrieved on May 11, 2012.