Brown names Oaklander to run state ABC

Gov. Jerry Brown today named an Oaklander who had worked closely with him in the Attorney General’s office to run the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.

Jacob Appelsmith, 47, will serve both as senior adviser to the Governor and as ABC’s director. Appelsmith since 2008 has served as a special assistant to the Attorney General and chief of California Bureau of Gaming Control; earlier, he was as a deputy attorney general; general counsel for the Office of the Attorney General’s personnel and equal employment opportunity matters; and lead supervising attorney for the Employment, Regulation and Administrative Section in the Attorney General’s office.

From Sacramento Lawyer’s September 2001 profile of Appelsmith:

Appelsmith has got sideburns “down to there” and wears several earrings (weekends only). But people trust him because he is a very talented lawyer and really knows employment law, Senior Assistant Attorney General Jim Schiavenza said.

Appelsmith’s unique personal and legal style probably can be traced to his Berkeley upbringing. “Jake was exposed early on to the Berkeley community’s general presumption of social justice,” Bass said. It is probably that exposure, Bass said, that has influenced Appelsmith so that the concept of social justice is part and parcel of who Appelsmith is.


Not only is Appelsmith concerned with social welfare, but he also has a diverse array of interests outside of his work. He proclaims that reading Charles Dickens “is a huge thing” for him. Others note his love of music. Schiavenza said that if you saw Appelsmith outside of work, you would likely find him at a bar listening to music. Bass, a former jazz pianist, said that he and Appelsmith fool around with music quite a bit outside of work and reflected on the time when the two lawyers parodied “A Streetcar Named Desire” for a select group of friends.

At work, Appelsmith juggles a variety of projects without missing a beat, Schiavenza said. Appelsmith is a man who “stretches everyone’s imagination, is imaginative about solutions, and is willing to take risks,” Schiavenza said. Those qualities fit neatly within the attorney general’s office’s new perspective on its role as the state’s attorneys.

From 1988 to 1994, he was an attorney with Pillsbury, Madison & Sutro. He earned an undergraduate degree from Middlebury College in Vermont and a law degree from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law.

The ABC director’s position requires Senate confirmation and has an annual salary of $150,112; the senior adviser’s post neither requires confirmation nor carries additional pay. Appelsmith is a Democrat.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • Shame on Me

    All those fascinating hobbies. Just what CA needs.