Thomas John Umberg (born September 25, 1955) is a U.S. politician, who was a Democrat in the California State Assembly, representing the 69th District. He is currently a partner at Umberg Zipser LLP in Orange County, California.
Military service and family
Born in Cincinnati, Ohio of German ancestry, Umberg graduated with honors from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1977. He was commissioned Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army, then promoted to Captain. Umberg served with the 2nd Infantry Division in South Korea and with NATO forces in Italy during his time in the army. Umberg also served as a paratrooper with the US Army Special Operations Command, US Army Special Warfare Center and the XVIIIth Airborne Corp. Umberg completed the Harvard University, Kennedy School of Public Policy, Program for Senior Executives in National Security. He was also awarded a Masters Degree in Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College. Umberg remained in the U.S. Army Reserve, rising to the rank of Colonel. He was reactivated as a prosecutor of terrorist suspects, and he received a Joint Services Commendation Medal for his contribution in Guantanamo. Umberg was also recalled to active duty in 2009 to serve as Chief, Anti-Corruption in Afghanistan. Umberg's military decorations include: the Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal (2d award), the US Coast Guard Distinguished Public Service Award, the Army Commendation Medal (2d award), the Army Achievement Medal. Umberg is married to Brigadier General (USA) Robin Umberg, and has three children.
After receiving his Juris Doctor degree from UC Hastings College of the Law in 1980, he was appointed an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Orange County. He had a 100% conviction rate prosecuting drug dealers, gang members, white collar criminals, and civil rights cases. In addition, he also served as a military prosecutor during between 1980 and 1985.
First stint in Assembly
Umberg was first elected to the California State Assembly in 1990, defeating incumbent Republican Curt Pringle. Umberg was re-elected in 1992. While in the Assembly he served as Chairman of the Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee. Instead of seeking a third term in 1994, Umberg ran for Attorney General of California but lost to Republican Dan Lungren.
Umberg then joined the law firm of Morrison & Foerster LLP in 1995 as a partner. He was the Managing Partner of Morrison & Foerster's Orange County Office from 2003 until 2005. In addition, he also took a position as an adjunct professor of law at Southwestern University School of Law. During the 1996 presidential election, he served as the chairman of the Clinton re-election campaign in California. Clinton appointed Umberg as the Deputy Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy in 1997.
Second stint in Assembly
In 2000, Umberg left the Clinton administration and returned to California. In 2002, he lost the Democratic Party nomination for State Insurance Commissioner to John Garamendi. In 2004, Umberg won election to the Assembly to represent the 69th District. During his third term, Umberg Chaired the Elections and Redistriciting Committee. While in the legislature, Umberg authored over 60 measures which became law. These laws include measures dealing with hate crimes, white collor crime, campaign finance reform, high-speed rail transport and school meal programs.
Umberg sought the seat of retiring State Senator Joe Dunn (D) in the 2006 elections. Orange County Supervisor and former Assemblyman Lou Correa jumped in the race in January 2006 despite pressure from the local Democratic party for him to stay out (although with pressure from the state Democratic party for him to jump in), stating that he was running in part because of the allegations about Umberg's residency. Aside from other negative articles, Umberg also received criticism that he voted to legalize gay marriage. Umberg attempted to get Correa off the ballot because Correa submitted more than the number of signatures required to qualify for the ballot, but ultimately failed. Umberg also claimed that an alliance between Correa and State Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata to funnel funds to Correa's campaign was illegal. Umberg was defeated by Correa by a 60% to 40% margin, and Correa went on to narrowly win the general election.
Orange County Supervisorial campaign
After Correa won the general election for the Senate by a 10% margin, Umberg entered the race to replace Correa on the Orange County Board of Supervisors, representing the 1st Supervisorial District. 52% of 1st Supervisorial District voters are also voters in the 69th Assembly District, formerly represented by Umberg. 73% of 1st Supervisorial District voters are also 34th Senate District voters, so Umbert was believed to be the favorite. On 6 February 2007, Umberg received 21.4%, coming in third, less than he had been expected to poll.
- 2007 Orange County Board of Supervisors, 1st District
- Janet Nguyen (R), 10,919 - 24.1%
- Trung Nguyen (R), 10,912 - 24.1%
- Tom Umberg (D), 9,725 - 21.4%
- Carlos Bustamante (R), 7,460 - 16.5%
- 2006 Democratic Primary Election for State Senate, 34th District
- Lou Correa (D), 17,409 - 59.8%
- Tom Umberg (D), 11,731 - 40.2%
- 2004 General Election for State Assembly, 69th District
- Tom Umberg (D), 38,516 - 61.4%
- Otto Bade (R), 19,811 - 31.5%
- George Reis (L), 4,470 - 7.1%
- 2004 Democratic Primary Election for State Assembly, 69th District
- Tom Umberg (D), 8,498 - 51.2%
- Claudia Alvarez (D), 8,122 - 48.8%
- 2002 Democratic Primary Election for Insurance Commissioner
- 1994 General Election for Attorney General
- Dan Lungren (R), 4,438,733 - 53.9%
- Tom Umberg (D), 3,256,070 - 39.5%
- Richard N. Burns (L) - 274,335 - 3.3%
- Robert J. Evans (P&F) 271,459 - 3.3%
- 1994 Democratic Primary Election for Attorney General
- Tom Umberg (D), 1,715,098 - 100.0%
- 1992 General Election for State Assembly, 69th District
- Tom Umberg (D), 32,700 - 60.0%
- Jo Ellen Allen (R), 18,560 - 34.1%
- David R. Keller (L), 3,217 - 5.9%
- 1992 Democratic Primary Election for State Assembly, 69th District
- Tom Umberg (D), 9,637 - 100.0%
- 1990 General Election for State Assembly, 72nd District
- Tom Umberg (D), 25,247 - 51.9%
- Curt Pringle (R), 23,411 - 48.1%
On June 23, 2005, Umberg admitted to the Los Angeles Times that he had an extramarital affair. Umberg stated that the woman was attempting to confront the Umbergs at his home, at school events, and in the gallery of the Assembly, and had forwarded e-mail messages exchanged during the affair to the Orange County Register. Separately, on June 24, 2005, the Register reported that, contrary to claims made by his 2004 Assembly campaign, Umberg only spent 16 days in Guantanamo Bay for his 2004 tour of duty. Republicans noted that in 1990, Umberg had claimed to be on duty in the "desert", implying that he was participating in Operation Desert Shield when in reality he was doing routine training at Fort Irwin in California's Mojave Desert. In addition, the Register also reported that Umberg lived in Villa Park (in the heavily Republican 60th Assembly District) instead of at the address where he was registered to vote, in Santa Ana (in the heavily Democratic 69th Assembly District). The Register reported that the woman, former Assembly staffer Ann Wallace, and Umberg continued the affair to November 2004. On July 3, 2005, the Register subsequently published a letter from LTC Jack Einwechter, who served as a military prosecutor with Umberg in Cuba, stating that the Register had erroneously reported the length of Umberg's service in Cuba and Washington DC. On July 15, 2005, the Register retracted some of its claims about Umberg.
- Quach, Hahn Kim "34th Senate race likely to get heated, expensive." The Orange County Register. January 26, 2006. Local 1.
- Joseph, Brian. "Judge upholds Correa's right to remain in Senate primary." The Orange County Register. March 29, 2006. Local 6.
- Pasco, Jean. "Umberg Says Illegal Alliance Is Hurting His Senate Campaign." Los Angeles Times. May 9, 2006. Page B4.
- Vietnamese voters at epicenter of O.C. political earthquake - Los Angeles Times
- Gittelsohn, John. "Questions dog Umberg campaign." The Orange County Register. July 9, 2005. Local 1.
- "Col. Umberg has served with honor and distinction," Letters to the Editor. The Orange County Register. July 3, 2005. Commentary 3.
- Gittelsohn, John. "Umberg gave notice in May." The Orange County Register. July 15, 2005. Local 1.
- Umberg/Zipzer LLP
- Official campaign web site for Umberg's supervisor campaign, archived in 2007
- Official Morrison & Foerster biography
|California State Assemblyman
December 3, 1990–November 30, 1992
|California State Assemblyman
December 7, 1992–November 30, 1994
|California State Assemblyman
December 6, 2004–November 30, 2006