Early History/Schooling: Thomas L. Sansonetti was born in Hinsdale, Illinois, on May 18, 1949. He received a bachelor’s degree in foreign affairs and an M.B.A. from the University of Virginia in 1971 and 1973, respectively. In 1976, he received his J.D. from Washington & Lee University.
Tenure as AAG: President George W. Bush appointed Sansonetti as Assistant Attorney General of the Environment and Natural Resources Division in April 2001. Sansonetti was confirmed in late 2001 and began working at the Division in January 2002. Because of the September 11, 2001 attacks, the Division became increasingly involved in national security cases during Sansonetti’s tenure, particularly in the area of port security. Sansonetti also sought to improve the Division administratively, increasing the budget and updating technology to meet needs of the attorneys. Sansonetti represented the United States in several district and appellate level cases and argued Bedroc Limited, LLC et al. v. United States, regarding sand and gravel rights on Nevada public lands, in the Supreme Court. He supported the Division’s criminal litigation and helped to develop the Division’s international work, focusing on ties with the European Union. Sansonetti resigned on April 8, 2005.
Career: Upon graduation from law school, Sansonetti moved to Gillette, Wyoming, where he built a successful general practice. Sansonetti co-founded Sheehan, Stevens and Sansonetti and increasingly focused his time on energy and environmental law. In 1983, Sansonetti successfully ran for Chairman of the Republican Party in Wyoming, serving until 1987. From June 1987 to January 1989, Sansonetti was Associate Solicitor for Energy and Resources at the Department of the Interior. In 1989, Sansonetti ran a closely contested but unsuccessful race for the House of Representatives seat vacated by Dick Cheney. However, he became the campaign manager and later chief of staff for his opponent, Rep. Craig Thomas. Sansonetti served as Solicitor of the Department of the Interior from June 1990 until January 1993. After leaving Interior, Sansonetti joined the Cheyenne, Wyoming office of Holland and Hart. He remained active in politics, serving as Wyoming’s Republican National Committeeman from 1996-2001.
After leaving the Division, Sansonetti returned to Holland and Hart where he continues to practice energy, environmental, and natural resource law. Sansonetti was a candidate for the Senate seat that became available with the death of Craig Thomas in 2007.
Personal: Sansonetti is married to Kristi Ann Todd, a Wyoming attorney.
This material is based on the review of a variety of historical sources, and its accuracy cannot be guaranteed. If you have any corrections or additional information about this individual or about the history of the Division, please contact ENRD.