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Texas Insurance Commissioner David Mattax dies of cancer

David Mattax, who served as commissioner of the Texas Department of Insurance since then-Gov. Rick Perry appointed him to the position in January 2015 after a lengthy career at the Texas Attorney General’s Office, has died of cancer. He was 60.

In a written statement, Gov. Greg Abbott called Mattax “a friend, colleague and distinguished public servant.”

Mattax spent 23 years at the Attorney General’s Office in a variety of capacities prior to being named insurance commissioner, most recently serving as deputy attorney general for defense litigation during Abbott’s tenure as attorney general.

Earlier this year, Abbott named Mattax to a new term as insurance commissioner expiring in 2019. The insurance department regulates the insurance industry. Abbott didn’t comment this week on his time frame for naming a replacement.

“Mattax truly dedicated his life and career to the state of Texas,” Abbott said. ” A brilliant lawyer whose loyalty to Texas never wavered, David was a doting son and brother who took great pride in mentoring young lawyers who would become the leaders of tomorrow. David’s brilliance, wit and wisdom will be dearly missed by all who knew him.”

Ken Paxton, current Texas attorney general, called Mattax “a great servant of the state of Texas.” Mattax “made everywhere he worked a better place and impacted the lives of the people with whom he worked,” Paxton said in a written statement.

During his time at the attorney general’s office, Mattax helped litigate high-profile cases involving redistricting and health and homeowners insurance, among others. Prior to serving as deputy attorney general for defense litigation — in which he supervised the defense for all lawsuits against the state — his posts included director of defense litigation and chief of the financial litigation division.

Mattax is a member of the State Bar of Texas and was admitted to practice before the four Texas Federal District courts, Fourth and Fifth Circuit U.S. Courts of Appeal and the U.S. Supreme Court, according to the Texas Department of Insurance. He also served as secretary-treasurer of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, where he previously held a number of other leadership positions.

Mattax earned bachelors degrees in history and math, and a law degree, from the University of Texas at Austin

Mattax initially was appointed insurance commissioner by Perry to serve out the unexpired term of Julia Rathgeber, who had resigned to become deputy chief of staff for then-Gov.-elect Abbott. At the time, Rathgeber only had a short time left on her term as insurance commissioner, so Abbott appointed Mattax to the position for a full term once it expired, and then reappointed him to another term this year.

No information about funeral services was immediately available.

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