Former Oaklander confirmed as Justice Dept.’s #3

The U.S. Senate today confirmed a former Oakland resident, and the brother-in-law of California’s attorney general, as third-in-command at the U.S. Department of Justice.

Tony WestThe roll call on Tony West’s confirmation as associate attorney general was 98-1, with U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., the only dissenter; Jerry Moran, R-Kan., didn’t vote.

“As a key member of the department’s senior management team, he has led with integrity, acting always in the best interests of the American people and in accordance with the finest traditions of public service,” U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said in a news release. “I applaud his confirmation by the U.S. Senate today, and look forward to continuing to work with him as Associate Attorney General – a role in which he has excelled, in an acting capacity, for more than a year.”

President Obama nominated West to this post last September, but he has served as the acting associate attorney general since March 2012; before that he had been the assistant attorney general in charge of the department’s civil division since April 2009.

Earlier, he’d been a special assistant to the deputy attorney general from 1993 to 1994; a federal prosecutor in San Francisco from 1994 to 1999; a special assistant attorney general at the California Department of Justice from 1999 to 2001; and then a litigation partner at Morrison & Foerster in San Francisco.

I first met West when he was a delegate to the 2004 Democratic National Convention, and he later became a prominent fundraiser for Obama’s first presidential campaign. His wife, Maya Harris, is vice president for democracy, rights and justice at the Ford Foundation, and sister to California Attorney General Kamala Harris.

West, 47, now oversees the department’s civil litigating sections (the Antitrust Division, Civil Division, Civil Rights Division, Environment and Natural Resources Division, and Tax Division); grant-making components (the Office of Justice Programs, Office on Violence Against Women, and Office of Community Oriented Policing Services); and other sections including the Community Relations Service, Executive Office of U.S. Trustees, Office of Information Policy and Foreign Settlement Claims Commission. He’s also co-chair of the President’s Task Force on Puerto Rico; vice chair of the steering committee of the President’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force; and the federal government’s chief Freedom of Information Act officer.

He’s a graduate of Harvard College, where he served as publisher of the Harvard Political Review, and of Stanford Law School, where he was president of the Stanford Law Review.

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.