Edmund G. Brown Jr., known as Jerry, was born in San Francisco on April 7, 1938. He attended both public and parochial schools, graduating from St. Ignatius High School in 1955. He completed freshman year at the University of Santa Clara before entering Sacred Heart Novitiate, a Jesuit seminary in August 1956. In 1960, he left the Society of Jesus and enrolled at the University of California at Berkeley. He received his B.A. degree in Classics the next year and then entered Yale Law School, where he graduated in 1964.
Following law school, Brown worked as a law clerk at the California Supreme Court, traveled and studied in Mexico and Latin America and then took up residence in Los Angeles, working for the prestigious law firm, Tuttle & Taylor. In 1969, Brown was elected to the Los Angeles Community College Board of Trustees, placing first in a field of 124. In 1970, he was elected California Secretary of State.
Brown was elected Governor in 1974 and reelected in 1978, by a margin of 21%.
During Governor Brown's tenure, California created 1.9 million new jobs, almost double the national rate. During his eight years in office, Brown marshaled both Democrats and Republicans in the legislature to slow the growth of state government, eliminate capital gains taxes for many small businesses, abolish the business inventory tax, index personal income taxes, adopt the nation's first energy efficiency standards, and make California the leader in co-generation, solar and wind energy.
As governor, Brown consistently had budgets approved on time and built a prudent budget surplus to serve as a "rainy day fund". He reduced the number of state employees per 1,000 Californians from 9.6 in 1975 to 9.2 in 1982. The tax burden for California residents declined from $6.90 per $100 of income in 1975 to $6.72 in 1982.
While curbing the growth of state government, Brown instituted cutting-edge environmental protections that became guidelines for the nation to follow. He strengthened the California Coastal Commission and established comprehensive policies governing development along the coast. He signed the nation's first legislation requiring high school students to demonstrate basic proficiency before graduation. State funding for higher education, including community colleges, more than doubled during Brown's eight years as governor.
In the field of crime fighting, Governor Brown enacted hundreds of tough anti-crime measures, including the "Use A Gun Go To Prison" Law and mandatory sentences for rape, sale of heroin, violent crimes against the elderly, child molestation and selling PCP. He established and funded the Career Criminal Prosecution Program, the Career Criminal Apprehension Program and the Crime Resistance Task Force.
After his governorship, Brown lectured widely, led delegations to China and the Soviet Union, studied Spanish in Mexico, spent six months in Japan studying Japanese culture and Buddhist practice, worked with Mother Teresa in India at the Home for the Dying, and traveled to Bangladesh as a CARE ambassador of good will during the devastating floods of 1987.
Brown again practiced law in Los Angeles and in 1989 became chairman of the state Democratic Party. He resigned that position in 1991, expressing frustration with the growing influence of money in politics, and sought the 1992 Democratic Presidential nomination. During that campaign he refused to take contributions larger than $100 and used an "800" number to raise funds.
Despite limited financial resources, Brown defeated Bill Clinton in Maine, Colorado, Vermont, Connecticut, Utah and Nevada during the 1992 Presidential primaries and was the only candidate other than Clinton to receive enough voter support to continue until the Democratic National Convention.
In 1998, Brown ran for mayor of Oakland against 11 other candidates and won in the primary with 59% of the vote. Before taking office, he successfully passed a voter initiative, changing the ceremonial office of mayor to that of a "Strong Mayor" form of city government. Brown was reelected in 2002 with 64% of the vote.
As Mayor, Brown spearheaded the revitalization of a downtown that had been dormant for decades. He helped create new housing units for more than 10,000 people, re-opened the beautiful Fox Theatre (which had been shuttered for 30 years), and attracted many new restaurants, businesses and art galleries to the city. Brown also personally founded the renowned Oakland School for the Arts (housed in the Fox Theatre) and the Oakland Military Institute. Both schools serve students from the 6th grade through the 12th and are among the best performing schools in Oakland. During his 8 years as Mayor, the number of serious crimes was reduced by over 30% compared to the previous 8 year period.
On June 18, 2005, Brown married Anne Gust in a ceremony officiated by Senator Diane Feinstein. Later the same day, they had a Catholic ceremony at St. Agnes, the San Francisco church where Jerry was baptized and his parents were married. The marriage is the first for both.
Jerry Brown was elected California's 31st Attorney General on November 6, 2006. Brown's margin of victory, 18-points, was greater than that of any other candidate for statewide office.
As Attorney General, Brown focused on protecting working families and consumers, pursuing mortgage fraud and real estate scams, championing worker’s rights and cracking down on violent crime - working closely with local police and sheriffs to apprehend dangerous criminals, gang members, con artists and major perpetrators of fraud and financial crimes.
In June of 2008, Brown sued Countrywide Financial for engaging in deceptive advertising and unfair competition by pushing homeowners into mass-produced, risky loans for the sole purpose of reselling the mortgages on the secondary market. The action led to a landmark, multi-state settlement with Countrywide Home Loans, Countrywide Financial Corporation and Full Spectrum Lending that provided up to $8.68 billion of home loan and foreclosure relief nationally, including $3.5 billion to California borrowers.
Following the California Supreme Court’s finding of a state constitutional right to same-sex marriage, Brown refused to defend Proposition 8 in court. Brown also argued that same-sex marriages performed prior to the adoption of Proposition 8 should not be invalidated if the court upheld Proposition 8. In May of 2009, the Court ultimately upheld Proposition 8 while providing that those who were wed prior to its passage remained married. Brown then filed a brief arguing that Proposition 8 should be overturned on the basis of federal law. In August 2010, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California ruled that Proposition 8 violated the Due Process and the Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
Governor Brown was elected for his third gubernatorial term in 2010. Since taking office he has dramatically cut the state budget deficit, improved California’s credit ratings and cut waste and inefficiencies throughout government. Governor Brown also enacted historic public safety realignment, raised the state’s clean energy goal to 33 percent and is seeking the public’s support for new revenues to protect education and public safety funds.
Governor Brown is married to Anne Gust Brown, who serves as Special Counsel in the Office of the Governor.