Betty Yee

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Betty Yee
Betty Yee official photo.jpg
32nd Controller of California
Assumed office
January 5, 2015
Governor Jerry Brown
Preceded by John Chiang
Member of the California State Board of Equalization
from the 1st district
In office
December 15, 2004 – January 5, 2015
Preceded by Carole Migden
Succeeded by Fiona Ma
Personal details
Born (1957-10-19) October 19, 1957 (age 59)
San Francisco, California, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Education University of California, Berkeley (BA)
Golden Gate University (MPA)
Betty Yee
Chinese 余淑婷
Hanyu Pinyin Yú Shūtíng

Betty T. Yee (Chinese: ; born October 19, 1957)[1] is an American politician and member of the Democratic Party who has served as California State Controller since 2015. She previously served as a member of the California Board of Equalization from 2004 to 2015. She won the open seat for Controller in the 2014 election, with 54% of the vote.[2]

Early life and career[edit]

A native of the Parkside district of San Francisco, Yee's parents emigrated from Guangdong Province, China in 1956. She handled the books in her family's neighborhood laundry and dry cleaning business while she grew up.[1]

Originally speaking no English, she spent her grade school years in the San Francisco Unified School District before attending the University of California, Berkeley as an undergraduate, attaining a bachelor's degree in sociology. She went on to attend Golden Gate University, from which she earned a master's degree in Public Administration.

Yee worked for the Legislature and was then Governor Gray Davis's Chief Deputy Director for Budget, later saying that "My role was to present all the options possible. Politics came into play. The governor and legislative leaders made decisions that sometimes didn't agree with our recommendations."[1] She then became the Chief Deputy to Board of Equalization member Carole Migden.[3] She was appointed to fill the seat when Migden vacated it after being elected to the State Senate.

Political career[edit]

Yee was elected in her own right to the California Board of Equalization in 2006 from the 1st Board District and was re-elected in 2010.[4] She led the successful effort to force to collect sales taxes on online purchases, the so-called "Amazon tax".[1][5][6]

She ran for California State Controller in the 2014 election to succeed term-limited Democrat John Chiang, who was elected State Treasurer.[7] In the nonpartisan blanket primary, Republican Ashley Swearengin, the Mayor of Fresno, and Yee finished first and second, respectively. The third-place finisher, Democratic Speaker of the California State Assembly John Pérez, initially called for a recount in 15 counties after official results showed him trailing Yee by just 481 votes out of over 4 million cast; however, he ultimately conceded to Yee more than a month after the primary.[8][9][10] Swearengin and Yee competed in the general election, which Yee won by 3,810,304 votes (53.97%) to 3,249,668 (46.03%).

As State Controller, Yee will sit on the California State Lands Commission. She supports investing in alternative energy and opposes fracking for oil.[1] An advocate of tax reform, she opposes extending Governor Jerry Brown's temporary tax increases, instead proposing to lower the state sales tax and extend it to currently untaxed services.[1]

Yee also serves as Vice President of California Women Lead, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization for women holding or interested in running for political office.[11]

Electoral history[edit]

Yee's first official photo as State Controller
California Board of Equalization 1st District Democratic Primary Election, 2010
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Betty Yee (inc.) 564,903 74.7
Democratic Ted Ford 149,166 19.7
Democratic Alan Montgomery 43,075 5.6
California Board of Equalization 1st District Election, 2006
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Betty Yee (inc.) 1,508,130 65.0
Republican David Neighbors 677,942 29.2
Libertarian Kennita Watson 68,405 2.9
Peace and Freedom David Campbell 67,697 2.9
California Board of Equalization 1st District Election, 2010
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Betty Yee (inc.) 1,617,369 63.1
Republican Kevin Scott 799,327 31.2
Libertarian Kennita Watson 77,929 3.0
Peace and Freedom Sherill Borg 71,183 2.7
California State Controller Primary Election, 2014
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Ashley Swearengin 1,001,473 24.8
Democratic Betty Yee 878,195 21.7
Democratic John Pérez 877,714 21.7
Republican David Evans 850,109 21.0
Green Laura Wells 231,352 5.7
Democratic Tammy Blair 200,532 5.0
California State Controller Election, 2014
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Betty Yee 3,810,304 54.0
Republican Ashley Swearengin 3,249,668 46.0


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Less-funded controller's race is where the real money is". Los Angeles Times. October 23, 2014. Retrieved November 12, 2014. 
  2. ^ Pritchard, Justin, Election 2014: Democrat Betty Yee elected California controller, Los Angeles Daily News, November 5, 2014
  3. ^ VOTER'S GUIDE TO THE NOV. 7 ELECTION / Board of Equalization, San Francisco Chronicle, October 29, 2006
  4. ^
  5. ^ "E-retailers thrive on unfair advantage". SFGate. July 31, 2011. Retrieved November 12, 2014. 
  6. ^ " Fights California Tax Collectors". SFGate. June 30, 2011. Retrieved November 12, 2014. 
  7. ^ Josh Richman (April 8, 2013). "Political Blotter: Board of Equalization member Betty Yee making a bid for state controller". San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved March 9, 2014. 
  8. ^ Megerian, Chris (6 July 2014). "John Pérez calls for recount in tight race for state controller". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 8 July 2014. 
  9. ^ "8 reasons to care about the recount in the state controller's race". KPCC. 9 July 2014. Retrieved 10 July 2014. 
  10. ^ Wildermuth, John. "John Pérez concedes in California controller's race". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 18 July 2014. 
  11. ^ California Women Lead: Board and Staff Archived October 19, 2014, at the Wayback Machine.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Carole Migden
Member of the California State Board of Equalization
from the 1st district

Succeeded by
George Runner
Preceded by
John Chiang
Controller of California