James E. Nugent

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James Edward "Jim" Nugent

In office
Governor Bill Clements (1979-1983); (1987-1991)
Mark White (1983-1987)
Ann Richards (1991-1995)
Preceded by Jon Newton
Succeeded by Charles R. Matthews

Texas State Representative for
District 56 (Gillespie, Kerr, Kimble, Llano, Mason, Menard, Real, San Saba, Schleicher, and Uvalde counties)
In office
Preceded by Joseph Burkett
Succeeded by Gerald Geistweidt

Born June 24, 1922
San Angelo

Tom Green County
Texas, USA

Died July 17, 2016 (aged 94)
Austin, Texas
Resting place Texas State Cemetery
Political party Democrat
Spouse(s) Billie Louise Merritt Nugent (married 1956-2002, her death)
Children Billie Nan Nugent, formerly Billie Cotten

Calvin "Skip" Trammell, Jr. (stepson)

Residence Kerrville, Texas
Alma mater Schreiner College in Kerrville, Texas

University of Texas at Austin Law School

Occupation Lawyer

United States Navy in World War II

James Edward Nugent, known as Jim Nugent (June 24, 1922 – July 17, 2016),[1] was a 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.[2]

A son of Edward William Nugent (1890-1984) and the former Ada Belle Patterson (1899-1982), Nugent was born in San Angelo in Tom Green County in West Texas. He attended the private Schreiner University in Kerrville, Texas, named for the rancher and businessman Charles Schreiner, Sr. From 1946 to 1949, he attended law school at the University of Texas in Austin, at which he received his Juris Doctor degree. That same year, he became the county attorney in Kerr County, a position that he retained until 1954.[2] From 1961 to 1979, he was a member of the Texas House of Representatives for District 56, previously designated by several other numbers. Nugent served as Speaker Pro Tem in his last legislative term from 1977 to 1979 under Governor Dolph Briscoe.[3]

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.[4]

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.[5] 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.[6]

Nugent was married to the former Billie Louise Merritt (1921-2002); the couple 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.[7] Billie Nan Nugent's former husband, Joe Cotton (born 1951) of Frisco, using his former father-in-law as his inspiration, ran unsuccessfully in the 2012 Republican primary for the Texas Railroad Commission.


  1. http://www.cemetery.state.tx.us/pub/user_form.asp?pers_id=2934
  2. 2.0 2.1 Schreiner University: Former Students. schreiner.edu. Retrieved on May 11, 2012.
  3. James E. Nugent. lrl.state.tx.us. Retrieved on May 11, 2012.
  4. 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.
  5. Railroad Commissioners Past through Present. rrc.state.tx.us. Retrieved on May 11, 2012.
  6. Texas Secretary of State, General election results, November 8, 1994. elections.sos.state.tx.us. Retrieved on May 11, 2012.
  7. Descendants of Sherwood Merritt. familytreemaker.genealogy.com. Retrieved on May 11, 2012.