At a Glance
- Career History: Partner at Morrison & Foerster LLP (2001 to 2009); Special Assistant Attorney General for the California Office of the Attorney General (1999 to 2001); Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Justice Department (1994 to 1999); Special Assistant to the Deputy Attorney General (1993 to 1994)
- Birthday: August 12, 1965
- Hometown: Born in San Francisco and raised in San Jose, Calif.
- Alma Mater: Havard University, A.B., 1987; Stanford Law School, J.D. 1992
- Spouse: Maya
- Web site
Path to Power
West was born in San Francisco in 1965 and was raised in San Jose, Calif. Like Obama, West is a black politician raised outside of the black churches and away from the civil rights movement. His father was from Georgia and his mother was from Alabama, but they moved to California before he was born searching for new opportunities.
In high school, he won a race for freshman class president by making posters of himself talking with then-California Gov. Jerry Brown (D). After graduating from Harvard University in 1987, he worked for Michael Dukakis' (D) presidential campaign as the chief of staff to the treasurer. After Dukakis lost, West worked as finance director for the Democratic Governors' Association until moving back to the West Coast to attend Stanford Law School, where he would become president of the Stanford Law Review.
At Morrison & Foerster (MoFo), West worked on a wide variety of high-profile cases. He represented Oakland Raiders wide receiver Marcus Williams in a civil suit against a former teammate, and has commented regularly for ESPN as a "legal analyst" when the arena of sports collides with law.
For instance, West opined when NBA star Kobe Bryant was charged with rape, when college football running back Maurice Clarett challenged the NFL's rule that he couldn't enter the league until he had been out of high school for three years and when NBA player Jayson Williams was accused of murder. West has also served as a legal expert for CNN and CBS.
"Tony's ascension in the various worlds of politics is largely due to the fact that he has always been very meticulous about maintaining his networks - and they are networks that are beyond California," said Sam Rodriguez, a political consultant who worked with West early in his career.
West began working in politics in 1987, when he volunteered for Michael Dukakis. On that campaign, West met then-Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), and he still keeps a signed photograph of Kennedy in his office. He also has photos of Robert Kennedy, Abraham Lincoln, Janet Reno and Barack Obama. "I was so fortunate to be at the department when Janet Reno was attorney general and then to be a federal prosecutor when she was attorney general. It was a really good time to learn the principles of prosecution and what a department of justice should be," West said.
In addition to donating $2,800 to Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign, he also donated $2,300 to Hillary Rodham Clinton after the primary was over to help her repay her campaign debt. And he has donated to California Democrats such as Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, and California Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer.