Fabian Núñez

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For Chilean footballer, see Fabián Núñez Cortés.
Fabian Núñez
65th Speaker of the California State Assembly
In office
February 9, 2004 – May 13, 2008
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
Preceded by Herb Wesson
Succeeded by Karen Bass
Member of the California State Assembly
from the 46th district
In office
December 2, 2002 – November 30, 2008
Preceded by Gil Cedillo
Succeeded by John Pérez
Personal details
Born (1966-12-27) December 27, 1966 (age 49)
San Diego, California, United States
Nationality American
Political party Democratic
Alma mater Pitzer College(B.A.)
Profession Politician

Fabian Núñez (Fabián Núñez, Fabian Nuñez and less commonly Fabian Nunez) (born December 27, 1966 in San Diego, United States) has been a labor union adviser and a Democratic politician. He served three two year terms as a member of the State Assembly, leaving office in late 2008. During his last two terms, Nunez was the Assembly Speaker, the 66th person to hold that position.


Prior to elective office[edit]

From 1996 to 2000, Fabian Núñez served as the Political Director for the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor and, between 2000–2002, was the Government Affairs Director for the Los Angeles Unified School District.

As an elected official[edit]

Núñez was elected to the California State Assembly to represent the 46th district in 2002. Later, on February 9, 2004 he was selected as the Speaker of the California Assembly.

When Núñez was elected, the Los Angeles Times reported that he promised to "foster a spirit of bipartisanship in the Assembly..." He was quoted saying, "We should reestablish this great legislative body as the house of ideas. And more importantly, we must work together for the benefit of all Californians."[1]

During his tenure as speaker, the San Francisco Chronicle editorialized that the 2005/2006 "legislative session represented one of the most productive in recent memory."[2]

Throughout his term, Núñez authored several laws critical to the financial and environment health of California: including prescription drug price reductions; a $1.25 increase in the minimum wage; a first-in-nation package of measures that alleviate global warming; the passage of $40 billion in infrastructure bonds on the 2006 ballot; reform of the management structure of the Los Angeles Unified School District, at the behest of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa; and a measure to promote competition among cable television providers.[citation needed]

Upon leaving office in 2008, the San Diego Union Tribune quoted Jamie Regalado, director of the Pat Brown Institute at the California State University, Los Angeles saying of Núñez' tenure as speaker, "In that sense, for many working families, for much of the state's poor, not only in his district, he has to be seen as a strong champion."[3]

Legislative accomplishments[edit]

AB 32 Climate change law
Núñez authored AB 32 that was signed into law by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on September 27, 2006. AB 32 created the nation's first cap on greenhouse gas emissions. The law set new regulations on the amount of emissions utilities, refineries and manufacturing plants are allowed to release into the atmosphere.[4]
Minimum wage increase
Núñez authored legislation that increased the minimum wage by $1.25. It was reported by The San Francisco Chronicle that Núñez said the passage to increase the minimum wage"...means putting more food on the table. It means being able to pay rent."[5]
$40 Billion in infrastructure bonds
Núñez supported and advocated for the passage of the 2006 infrastructure bonds. He authored both the education (Proposition 1B) and water levee bond (Proposition 1D) in the Legislature. Former Assembly Speaker Bob Hertzberg spoke about Núñez' involvement with the passage of the bonds on May 17, 2006: "And ultimately credit goes to Speaker Fabian Núñez, who is a very keen legislator who understands how to put the pieces and parts together and see the big picture. He was instrumental in taking what was failure last time and putting it all together this time. Fabian is willing to work with all sides and wants to get things done."[6]
Prescription drugs
Núñez passed a law in 2006 that will establish a program to provide prescription drugs at discount prices to about five million uninsured and underinsured Californians. The new law will require the state department of Health Services to negotiate discounts with drug manufacturers.[7]


In 2007, Núñez was named "Public Official of the Year" by Governing Magazine. The magazine highlighted his legislative leadership and accomplishments:[8]

Fabian Núñez doesn't think compromise is a dirty word. California's Assembly speaker has played a classic legislative leadership role as the bridge between Republican governor and a strongly liberal majority Democratic caucus, helping to forge and shepherd through a long list of impressive legislation over the past couple of years.
His personal scorecard includes a $40 billion infrastructure bond package, a $7 billion prison building and rehabilitation measure, and a landmark global-warming law that is already being imitated by other states. "Some people feel you can't compromise because your're setting your values aside," he continues. "I believe the opposite. Your're fighting for your beliefs when you can move the ball forward."

In 2009, Núñez was also listed as one of 2009's Top 100 Influential Leaders in the Hispanic U.S.

Goodwill mission to Mexico[edit]

In August 2005, Núñez traveled to Mexico to meet with the president of Mexico, Vicente Fox, other high level government officials, and business leaders. The declared purpose of his journey was to strengthen ties between Mexico and California that he claimed had deteriorated under California's governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger.[9] At the invitation of Nunez, president Fox eventually traveled to Sacramento and addressed a special joint session of the California State Legislature.[10]

Allegations of funding improprieties[edit]

On October 10, 2007, the Los Angeles Times reported that Núñez had allegedly spent tens of thousands of dollars of campaign money for personal expenses.[11] However, October 27, 2009, Political Blotter reported that the FPPC had cleared Núñez of all accusations.[12]

Post elected office[edit]

Due to term limits, Núñez had to retire from the Assembly after 2008. Starting in fall 2007, he actively campaigned in support of a statewide proposition to amend the term limits law, including being made eligible to serve an additional six years as speaker. This ballot measure, (California Proposition 93 (2008)), was widely seen as a power grab on the part of Núñez and Senate Majority Leader Don Perata.[13] In the election of February 5, 2008 the voters of California rejected Proposition 93.[14] He was succeeded by Karen Bass.[15]

After serving as speaker of the Assembly, Núñez was named as co-chair of the Hillary Clinton 2008 presidential bid.[16] In addition, Núñez joined a national bipartisan public strategy firm, Mercury as a partner managing the Sacramento and Los Angeles offices.[17] Núñez is also on the Board of Directors for the U.S Soccer Federation and previously serviced on the University of California Board of Regents.

Personal life[edit]

Núñez is the tenth of twelve children. He was born in San Diego, California to Mexican parents, but the family lived in Tijuana, Mexico (across the international border from San Diego) until Fabian was 8 years old. He spent the rest of his youth in Logan Heights, a San Diego neighborhood. His parents eventually became United States citizens.

At the age of 31, Núñez earned Bachelor of Arts degrees in both political science and education from Pitzer College in Claremont, California.

Son's Guilty Plea for Murder of Luis Santos[edit]

Núñez's son Esteban was convicted of manslaughter pursuant to a guilty plea in connection with the fatal stabbing of 22-year-old college student Luis Santos during a drunken brawl on San Diego State University campus in October 2008, after being refused entrance to a fraternity party.[18] Three other men were also beaten and stabbed in the incident but survived.[19] Esteban and his three alleged accomplices initially entered not guilty pleas; Esteban and his friend Ryan Jett pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter, and the other two accomplices pleaded to lesser charges, after jury selection started in early May 2010. He was sentenced on June 25, 2010 to 16 years in prison for the death of Santos.[20] He was also sentenced under two additional felony counts.[21]

On January 2, 2011, outgoing Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger commuted the sentence of Esteban Núñez, reducing it from 16 years to seven years, stating that he felt the 16-year sentence was "excessive" given that Núñez was not "the actual killer" and Santos' fatal wound was supposedly inflicted, not by Núñez himself, but by his accomplice, Ryan Jett[22][23]

The family of the victim was outraged.[24] Bonnie Dumanis, the San Diego district attorney who prosecuted Esteban Nunez, stated that Schwarzenegger's decision "greatly diminishes justice." San Diego City Attorney Jan Goldsmith stated that Schwarzenegger reduced the sentence to "help his political crony's son".[25] In April 2011, Schwarzenenegger responded to the controversy stating, "Well hellooooo. I mean, of course you help a friend."[26]

2010 elections[edit]

Núñez filed paperwork to run for the California Senate in 2010[27] but withdrew.[28] Incumbent Democrat Gil Cedillo is term-limited.

2014 election[edit]

Núñez has created a campaign finance committee and announced that he will run for California State Treasurer in 2014, when incumbent Bill Lockyer is termed out.[29]


  1. ^ L.A.'s Nunez Is Formally Chosen Assembly Speaker, Los Angeles Times, January 09, 2004
  2. ^ Gov. Schwarzenegger to stay the courseSan Francisco Chronicle, October 18, 2006
  3. ^ Ex-assembly speaker Núñez looks at options for his future San Diego Union Tribune, May 18, 2008
  4. ^ Environmental record
  5. ^ SACRAMENTO / Minimum wage hike is now law / Governor signs bill -- Núñez at his side San Francisco Chronicle, September 13, 2006
  6. ^ Hertzberg: State Infrastructure Bond Results from Consensus-Building & Need The Planning Report, May 17, 2006
  7. ^ CALIFORNIA / New laws to change lives at basic level / Many Californians will notice changes as legislators' efforts come to fruition on Monday San Francisco Chronicle, December 29, 2006
  8. ^ 2007 Public Officials of the Year: Fabian Núñez GOVERNING
  9. ^ Politics – Núñez meets with Mexico's president – sacbee.com
  10. ^ In Mexico, Núñez is forced to explain border comments | The San Diego Union-Tribune
  11. ^ Lopez, Steve (October 10, 2007). "Mr. Nuñez, who are you wining and dining? – Los Angeles Times". Los Angeles Times. 
  12. ^ FPPC clears Fabian Nunez of two complaints Political Blotter, October 27, 2009
  13. ^ A deceptive Prop. 93
  14. ^ Voters reject Prop. 93 on term limits
  15. ^ Official member list for the California State Assembly as of December 3, 2008
  16. ^ Nunez to co- chair Clinton campaign Inside Bay Area, April 26, 2007
  17. ^ Honorable Fabian Núñez
  18. ^ "Esteban Nunez Case: Bad Little Suburban Boys". 
  19. ^ Goffard, Christopher (December 21, 2014) "Knives, a death, a famous name" Los Angeles Times
  20. ^ CA politician's son pleads guilty to manslaughter, Associated Press, May 5, 2010
  21. ^ LA Times, June 25, 2010
  22. ^ "Department of No Comment: Ex-Terminator's Farewell: 'Hasta La Vista, Baby'". 
  23. ^ San Francisco Chronicle, Associated Press (January 2, 2010 – retrieved on January 2, 2010).
  24. ^ [1], Vancouver Sun, January 5, 2011
  25. ^ [2], "Outrage Over Schwarzenegger's Cutting Of Esteban Nunez' Sentence", January 4, 2011
  26. ^ CBS News (April 19, 2011). "Former Governor Confirms He Helped Out A Political Friend By Shortening A Prison Sentence". KCBS-TV/KCAL-TV. 
  27. ^ Sacbee.com,
  28. ^ Join California-Election History for the State of California—Fabian Núñez
  29. ^ Ex-Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez eyes treasurer bid in 2014

Newspaper profiles[edit]

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Herb Wesson
Speaker of the California State Assembly
February 9, 2004 – May 13, 2008
Succeeded by
Karen Bass
Preceded by
Wilma Chan
State Assembly Majority Whip
December 2, 2002 – February 9, 2004
Succeeded by
Lloyd Levine
California Assembly
Preceded by
Gil Cedillo
California State Assemblymember, 46th District
December 2, 2002 – November 30, 2008
Succeeded by
John Pérez