John Chiang (California politician)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For the Kuomintang politician, see John Chiang (Taiwan).
John Chiang
California State Controller John Chiang.jpg
33rd Treasurer of California
Assumed office
January 5, 2015
Governor Jerry Brown
Preceded by Bill Lockyer
31st Controller of California
In office
January 8, 2007 – January 5, 2015
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
Jerry Brown
Preceded by Steve Westly
Succeeded by Betty Yee
Member of the California State Board of Equalization
from the 4th district
In office
January 3, 1997 – January 3, 2007
Preceded by Brad Sherman
Succeeded by Judy Chu
Personal details
Born (1962-07-31) July 31, 1962 (age 53)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Alma mater University of South Florida
Georgetown University
Religion Roman Catholicism[citation needed]
John Chiang
Traditional Chinese 江俊輝
Simplified Chinese 江俊辉
Hanyu Pinyin Jiāng Jùnhuī

John Chiang (Chinese: 江俊輝; born July 31, 1962) is an American politician and member of the Democratic Party who has served as the California State Treasurer since January 5, 2015. He previously served as California State Controller from 2007 to 2015 and on the California Board of Equalization from 1997 to 2007.

Background and early career[edit]

Chiang is the son of immigrants from Taiwan. He was born in New York City and grew up in Chicago. Chiang attended Carl Sandburg High School where he served as student body vice-president alongside student body president Dave Jones. Lifelong friends, Chiang and Jones would run again together in 2010 on the California Democratic slate, with Chiang winning reelection as state controller and Jones being elected California Insurance Commissioner. He graduated with honors with a degree in finance from the University of South Florida and has a law degree from Georgetown University Law Center. He moved to Los Angeles in 1987 where he got involved with the Democratic Party of the San Fernando Valley and the West LA Democratic Club.

Chiang began his career as a tax law specialist for the IRS. He worked as an attorney for then-California State Controller Gray Davis, and also worked on the staff of California Senator Barbara Boxer. He was appointed to the California Board of Equalization in 1997 after incumbent Brad Sherman resigned after being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. Chiang was then elected to the office in 1998 and elected to a second four-year term in 2002. He was Chair and represented the Fourth District, primarily serving southern Los Angeles County.

California State Controller[edit]

Chiang ran for California State Controller in 2006. He won the Democratic primary with 53%, defeating State Senator Joe Dunn. In the general election, he defeated Republican State Assemblyman Tony Strickland by over 870,000 votes. Chiang was inaugurated on January 8, 2007.[1]

In May 2007, Chiang released a report[2] that found that the state of California "would have to pay an additional $2.2 billion annually" over 30 years in order to pay for health benefits for all currently retired state employees and current state employees who will be retiring.[3] Chiang's actions were praised as having "gotten a needed discussion reignited".[4]

In June 2007, a U.S. District Judge banned the State Controller's office from seizing unclaimed property because the State was not giving "fair notice to the owner and public".[5] Because a ban could cause the State to lose $300 million per year in revenue, Chiang took steps to improve the notification of people whose assets were about to be seized, including sending them notices, and to improve the ability of people to recover their assets once seized.[6] By October 2007, the U.S. District Judge found that Chiang's measures "satisfie[d] constitutional due process" and lifted his ban.[5]

In July 2008, former Governor of California Schwarzenegger was reported to be planning to "slash the pay of more than 200,000 state workers to the federal minimum of $6.55 per hour," among other measures, due to a lack of an approved state budget.[7] In response, Chiang characterized Schwarzenegger's idea as "a poorly devised strategy to put pressure on the Legislature to enact a budget" and stated that he would continue to pay state workers their full salaries.[7] Chiang claimed that he had "both constitutional and statutory authority" to continue payments and that Schwarzenegger was trying to make Chiang "do something that's improper and illegal".[8] He received support from the Democratic leadership in the state Senate and Assembly.[9] When Schwarzenegger issued a formal executive order, Chiang sent a formal letter to Schwarzenegger "reiterating his position".[10][11] At a rally of state workers in Los Angeles, Chiang called them "innocent victims of a political struggle".[12][13]

Chiang ran for a second term in 2010. He was unopposed in the Democratic primary and faced a rematch with Strickland in the general election, who had been elected to the State Senate in the intervening period. Chiang defeated him again, by over 1.83 million votes.

California State Treasurer[edit]

Chiang was elected California State Treasurer in 2014, defeating Republican businessman Greg Conlon by nearly 1,250,000 votes (58.8% to 41.2%).[14] He was sworn into office by California Supreme Court Associate Justice Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar on January 4, 2015, succeeding term-limited Democratic incumbent Bill Lockyer.[15]

Personal life[edit]

Chiang has two brothers, Roger and Bob, and one sister Joyce, who was murdered in 1999.[16]


  1. ^ Yi, Matthew. Inaugurations - state offices - ceremonies, parties as state officials take oath of office. San Francisco Chronicle, January 6, 2007.
  2. ^ Gabriel, Roeder, Smith & Company. Other postemployment benefits sponsored by the State of California as of July 1, 2007. Accessed 1 Aug 2008.
  3. ^ Chan, Gilbert. Retiree health cost disclosed. Sacramento Bee, May 8, 2007. Accessed 1 Aug 2008.
  4. ^ State controller steps forward on retiree costs. John Chiang draws attention to costs of health care benefits for retired government workers. Orange County Register, May 11, 2007. Accessed 1 Aug 2008.
  5. ^ a b Walsh, Denny. Judge lifts ban on seizing assets - A group challenging the state's taking of unclaimed property plans to appeal. Sacramento Bee, October 20, 2007.
  6. ^ Chorneau, Tom, and Haley Davies. State will notify thousands before taking their assets. San Francisco Chronicle, August 24, 2007. Accessed 1 Aug 2008.
  7. ^ a b Wildermuth, John, and Matthew Yi. Governor plans to slash state workers' pay. San Francisco Chronicle, July 24, 2008. Accessed 1 Aug 2008.
  8. ^ Yi, Matthew. Controller says he won't cut workers' wages. San Francisco Chronicle, July 25, 2008. Accessed 1 Aug 2008.
  9. ^ Mendel, Ed. Governor, controller clash on pay-cut plan. San Diego Union-Tribune, July 26, 2008. Accessed 1 Aug 2008.
  10. ^ Yi, Matthew. Governor orders layoffs, heavy pay cuts. San Francisco Chronicle, July 31, 2008. Accessed 1 Aug 2008.
  11. ^ Letter from John Chiang to Arnold Schwarzenegger. July 31, 2008. Accessed 1 Aug 2008.
  12. ^ Rothfeld, Michael. Schwarzenegger makes layoffs, orders pay cuts for California state workers. Los Angeles Times, August 1, 2008. Accessed 1 Aug 2008.
  13. ^ [1]
  14. ^ Statement of Vote, November 4, 2015, General Election. California Secretary of State Debra Bowen. 2014. p. 6. 
  15. ^ White, Jeremy (January 4, 2015). "AM Alert: Jerry Brown swearing-in, State of State launch new year of California politics". The Sacramento Bee Capitol Alert. Retrieved May 12, 2015. 
  16. ^ Dean, Eddie (July 30, 1999). "The Murder Victim Next Door". Washington City Paper. Retrieved April 15, 2013. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Brad Sherman
Member of the California State Board of Equalization
from the 4th district

Succeeded by
Judy Chu
Preceded by
Steve Westly
Controller of California
Succeeded by
Betty Yee
Preceded by
Bill Lockyer
Treasurer of California