Nathan Ballard

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Nathan Ballard
Nathan Ballard.tif
Nathan F. Ballard
Occupation(s)Democratic strategist
Known forFormer spokesman for Governor of California Gavin Newsom

Nathan Ballard is a U.S. Democratic strategist and attorney.[1][2][3] He was the communications director for the governor of California, Gavin Newsom, when Newsom was the 42nd mayor of San Francisco.[4][5] He is a longtime friend and advisor to Newsom.[6][7][8] He sat on the board of directors of The Representation Project, Jennifer Siebel Newsom's nonprofit organization.[9] Ballard had close ties with the 43rd mayor of San Francisco, Ed Lee.[10][11] He was an advisor to Mark Farrell, the 44th mayor of San Francisco.[12][13][14]

Ballard has worked as a spokesman for the Democratic National Committee, the California Labor Federation, AFL–CIO,[15] former Secretary of State John Kerry, and Wesley Clark.[16][17] Ballard was a spokesman for the Golden State Warriors and was a spokesman for the Super Bowl 50 host committee.[18][19] He has represented prominent families and individuals including the Getty family[20] and Dede Wilsey.[21]


In 2000, Ballard was a deputy city attorney and spokesman for the city attorney in San Francisco.[22] He served as a deputy city attorney alongside Kamala Harris, later U.S. Vice President.[23][24][25]

From 2007 to 2010, Ballard was the communications director for San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.[26] He worked for a coalition of labor unions against a 2010 pension measure in San Francisco.[27] In 2010, Burson-Marsteller, a global public relations and communications consultancy, appointed Ballard as managing director.[28] He later resigned from the post.

In 2011, Ballard worked for a coalition including labor unions, civic leader Warren Hellman, and San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee to pass labor-backed reforms against a rival measure funded by Sir Michael Moritz.[29][30][31] Also in 2011, around the time of the Occupy Oakland protests, Ballard briefly served as a crisis manager for Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, following the resignation of the city's police chief.[32] At that time, he was described as having "lots of law enforcement clients".[32]

In 2016, the San Francisco Police Officers Association hired Ballard for what was described as a "counterattack" against police reform attempts following the controversial killing of Mario Woods by officers and concerns about racism in the city's police department.[33][34][35] Ballard was criticized for using exaggerated crime figures in the union's campaign against reform proponent George Gascón, and acknowledged having misread the rates.[33] Ballard stepped down from the union to avoid a conflict of interest while serving as an advisor to San Francisco Mayor Mark Farrell.[36]

In 2016, Ballard represented Burma Superstar, a restaurant chain that was sued for allegations of employee mistreatment.[37]

In 2017, Ballard worked for Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf in the aftermath of the Ghost Ship warehouse fire that killed 36 people.[38] Ballard's PR agency, The Press Shop, was criticized for its role in managing public relations related to the Ghost Ship fire.[39][40]

Ballard was a consultant to angel investor Ron Conway.[41]

In 2019, Ballard's PR agency opened a second office in Sacramento[42] and brought on the California Correctional Peace Officers Association, a 30,000-member union, as a client.[43] He represented a statewide coalition of "dozens" of legal cannabis companies.[44] His agency represented PG&E as the company faced bankruptcy and criticism about devastating wildfires.[45]

In 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Ballard represented a large chain of elder care providers in California where nearly half of the state's coronavirus deaths occurred in elder care facilities.[46][47] Ballard was a spokesman for the Getty family.[48]

Political associations[edit]

Ballard was a spokesman for the California Democratic Party in 2002.[49] In 2002 he was also a spokesman for New Hampshire Senate President Beverly Hollingworth's campaign for governor of New Hampshire.[50] In 2003, Ballard was the spokesman for the California Labor Federation, AFL–CIO, during the recall of Governor Gray Davis.[51]

During the 2004 U.S. presidential campaign, Ballard was a spokesman for Wesley Clark during the primaries.[52] Later in 2004, Ballard was a spokesman for U.S. Senator John Kerry's presidential campaign in California.[53] In 2006, Ballard was U.S. Congresswoman Jackie Speier's spokesman when she campaigned for lieutenant governor of California.[54]

In 2010, Ballard was Rep. Jackie Speier's spokesman when she weighed a run for attorney general in California.[55]

In 2012, Ballard was the spokesman for Proposition 38, a California tax measure for public education.[56] He was also the spokesman for the Coalition for Humane and Ethical Farming Standards, made up of more than 100 chefs in California seeking to lift the state's ban on foie gras at the time.[57] Ballard was the spokesman for the union representing the San Francisco Symphony musicians during the 2013 strike.[58]

In 2013, Ballard was the spokesperson for San Francisco's bid to host the 2016 Super Bowl and the team spokesperson for the Golden State Warriors new arena project.[59][60][61] In 2014, he served as the spokesman for the Koret Foundation during its dispute with the founder's widow.[62][63] Ballard was also a spokesman for the San Francisco Bay Area's bid for the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games.[64] He was also the spokesman for Dede Wilsey during her campaign to remain the head of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.[65]

In 2018, Ballard was a spokesman for Anthony Levandowski, a central figure in a legal battle between Waymo and Uber was called the "tech trial of the century."[66][67][68] Levandowski later pled guilty to stealing trade secrets from Google.[69]

Ballard is allied with U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein.[70][71]

Personal life[edit]

Ballard was profiled in San Francisco's "The Power Issue." He was recognized as one of San Francisco's "preeminent media whisperers" with "a junkyard dog persona."[72][73] In 2019, he was recognized as a "gamechanger" by U.C. Hastings.[74]

In December 2020, Ballard was charged with child abuse and spousal battery after an October incident.[75] He entered a not guilty plea in May 2021 and the Napa District Attorney reached a settlement in July that reduced all charges to misdemeanors and did not require jail time.[76][77]Conditions of Ballard's plea deal include that Ballard stay away from his two young children for six years.[78]

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ "Running for Mayor, but With Her Money Not in Play".
  2. ^ "'Shrimp Boy' tried to hang with San Francisco politicians".
  3. ^ California, The State Bar of. "Attorney Search : The State Bar of California". Retrieved 2018-01-12.
  4. ^ "Newsom's spokesman resigns".
  5. ^ "A Spokesman Leaves: What Does It Mean for Gavin Newsom?".
  6. ^ "California's New Governor Has a Problem: His Own Party". POLITICO Magazine. Retrieved 2018-11-14.
  7. ^ Daniels, Jeff (2018-11-07). "California Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom inherits surplus, booming economy, risks". Retrieved 2018-12-27.
  8. ^ Persons, Sally (2019-03-19). "California's early primary poised to pull 2020 Democrats further left". Fox News. Retrieved 2019-03-19.
  9. ^ "Miss Bigelow: Choices fundraiser shadowed by loss of Merla Zellerbach". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2018-06-05.
  10. ^ "Ed Lee Remembered By Those Who Knew Him Best". Retrieved 2018-01-10.
  11. ^ "Once-reluctant S.F. Mayor Ed Lee says he'll run for 2nd term". SFGate. Retrieved 2018-01-10.
  12. ^ "Unusual pairing of supervisors helped unite majority of board against Breed". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2018-02-01.
  13. ^ "Mark Farrell sues SF over $191,000 election-law fine". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2018-01-26.
  14. ^ "SF police union happy to have Farrell in mayor's office". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2018-02-07.
  15. ^ "With End Near, Recall Race Starts to Look Conventional".
  16. ^ "Missouri Democrats to host presidential debate in St. Louis".
  17. ^ "S.F. mayor's spokesman stepping down".
  18. ^ Matier, Phillip; Ross, Andrew (19 May 2015). "Warriors brass trying to tie arena push to playoff fever". San Francisco Chronicle.
  19. ^ Aleaziz, Hamed (27 February 2015). "Super Bowl 50 hosts give $2.5 million for youth outreach". San Francisco Chronicle.
  20. ^ "John Gilbert Getty's Family Will Spend Thanksgiving 'Grieving,' Says Family Spokesman". Retrieved 2021-08-23.
  21. ^ Ross, Phillip Matier and Andrew (2016-09-28). "After power struggle, Dede Wilsey prevails at Fine Arts Museums". SFGATE. Retrieved 2021-08-23.
  22. ^ "Ad Companies Fight to Take Messages to the Streets". The New York Times. 24 November 2000. Retrieved 25 October 2014.
  23. ^ "Former Mission supe David Campos gets new job with District Attorney". Mission Local. 2020-09-22. Retrieved 2020-09-24.
  24. ^ Flegenheimer, Matt (2019-09-15). "Kamala Harris Was Ready to Brawl From the Beginning". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-09-16.
  25. ^ Casey Tolan (May 30, 2017). "How Kamala Harris is bringing "California resistance" to Washington". The Mercury News. Retrieved June 5, 2017.
  26. ^ Leibovich, Mark (1 July 2009). "Who Can Possibly Govern California?". New York Times.
  27. ^ Stevens, Elizabeth Lesly (4 November 2010). "Defeat of Proposition B cements labor's power". The New York Times. Retrieved 11 March 2015.
  28. ^ "Burson-Marsteller Hires Former Communications Director for San Francisco Mayor's Office and Veteran Democratic Strategist Nathan Ballard". 2010-03-18. Retrieved 2020-02-14.
  29. ^ Stevens, Elizabeth Lesly (12 February 2011). "Pressures build to slash costs of city employees". The New York Times. Retrieved 11 March 2015.
  30. ^ Wildermuth, John (9 November 2011). "Voters approve Ed Lee's pension reform". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 11 March 2015.
  31. ^ Knight, Heather (3 October 2011). "SF pension reform donors tied to antiunion efforts". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 11 March 2015.
  32. ^ a b Matier, Phillip; Ross, Andrew (13 November 2011). "Ed Lee to face Dennis Herrera on subway objections". SF Gate. Retrieved 11 March 2015.
  33. ^ a b Ho, Vivian (2016-03-24). "Amid push for S.F. police reform, union escalates counterattack". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2016-04-10.
  34. ^ "Police union hires crisis manager to improve temper tantrums". The San Francisco Examiner. 2016-03-22. Retrieved 2020-02-14.
  35. ^ "SF police union claims Gascon made disparaging remarks". The San Francisco Examiner. 2016-03-03. Retrieved 2020-02-14.
  36. ^ "Mayor Farrell backs Taser ballot measure despite SFPD chief's opposition". The San Francisco Examiner. Retrieved 2018-03-02.
  37. ^ "Burma Superstar disputes lawsuit from its employees". SFGate. Retrieved 2018-01-10.
  38. ^ "Kim wants city to ensure access to birth control". 9 February 2017.
  39. ^ "The Press Shop". The Press Shop.
  40. ^ Shaban, Bigad; Witte, Rachel; Horn, Michael (March 16, 2017). "Oakland Hired Pricey PR Agency After Deadly Warehouse Fire Paid Exec. $500/Hour". NBC Bay Area.
  41. ^ "Ron Conway says he's too busy to get involved in SF's mayor race". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2018-03-06.
  42. ^ Marinucci, Carla; White, Jeremy B.; ALEX; Nieves, Er; Massara, Graph. "KAMALA is IN – NEWSOM running digital ads in other states – Who will chair CA DEMS and CA REPS? – CHARITIES step in as SHUTDOWN drags on – PG&E's other big problem – RAMS vs. PATRIOTS in SUPERBOWL". POLITICO. Retrieved 2019-02-18.
  43. ^ "California prison guards make nice with Gov. Gavin Newsom -". 2019-02-17. Retrieved 2019-02-18.
  44. ^ White, Jeremy B.; Marinucci, Carla; ALEX; Nieves, Er; Massara, Graph. "POT INDUSTRY takes on CITIES — 'An Oreo?' PORTER's viral CARSON moment — CALIFORNIA v TRUMP over HIGH-SPEED RAIL money — NEWSOM defers on SB 50". POLITICO. Retrieved 2019-06-04.
  45. ^ MacMillan, Douglas. "PG&E helped fund the careers of Calif. governor and his wife. Now he accuses the utility of 'corporate greed.'". Washington Post. Retrieved 2019-11-18.
  46. ^ Tracking the coronavirus in California
  47. ^ Folsom senior living home hit with 21 coronavirus cases, prompting resident quarantines
  48. ^ "John Gilbert Getty's Family Will Spend Thanksgiving 'Grieving,' Says Family Spokesman". Retrieved 2020-11-26.
  49. ^ Eslinger, Bonnie (27 February 2007). "Newsom hires new media chief, shuffles Ragone". San Francisco Examiner.
  50. ^ Macomber, Shawn (7 September 2002). "Pols raise questions about poll". Seacoast Online.
  51. ^ Murphy, Dean E. (30 September 2003). "With end near, recall race starts to look conventional". The New York Times. Retrieved 11 March 2015.
  52. ^ Charton, Scott (27 January 2004). "Missouri Democrats to host presidential debate in St. Louis". Southeast Missourian.
  53. ^ Marelius, John (23 February 2004). "Edwards' surge puts California on primary map". San Diego Union Tribune.
  54. ^ Rau, Jordan (29 May 2006). "State, Local Offices on the Line". Los Angeles Times.
  55. ^ Kinney, Aaron (2 February 2010). "Speier decides against run for attorney general". San Jose Mercury News.
  56. ^ Barnes, Brooks (10 September 2012). "Californians Face Rival Ballot Initiatives That Would Raise Taxes and Aid Schools". New York Times.
  57. ^ Norimitsu Onishi (12 August 2012). "Some in California Skirt a Ban on Foie Gras". The New York Times. Retrieved 25 October 2014.
  58. ^ Cohen, Ronnie (17 March 2013). "Fourth concert canceled as San Francisco Symphony strike continues". Reuters. Retrieved 11 March 2015.
  59. ^ "Miami's Stadium Problems Cloud Bid to Host Super Bowl in 2016, and Beyond".
  60. ^ "Most stories of the year at City Hall started with tech".
  61. ^ "How the Warriors' Mission Bay deal went down".
  62. ^ "Koret Foundation's board of directors seeks to remove founder's widow".
  63. ^ Phillip Matier; Andrew Ross (8 October 2014). "Koret Foundation sued by founder's widow over charity's gifts". SFGate. Retrieved 26 October 2014.
  64. ^ Elliott Almond (20 November 2014). "Bay Area prepares 2024 Olympic bid". Contra Costa Times. Retrieved 17 December 2014.
  65. ^ "Dede Wilsey spreads the campaign cash around". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2016-11-08.
  66. ^ Wong, Julia Carrie (2018-02-05). "The Uber trial exposing dirty secrets of Silicon Valley's greatest innovators". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-02-05.
  67. ^ "Waymo Vs. Uber: Tech Trial Of The Century About Allegedly Stolen Trade Secrets Starts Tomorrow". The Inquisitr. 2018-02-04. Retrieved 2018-02-05.
  68. ^ Wakabayashi, Daisuke (2018-02-06). "In Waymo-Uber Trial, Kalanick Recalls 'Jam Sesh' With Rival Engineer". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-02-07.
  69. ^ Conger, Kate (2020-03-19). "Former Uber Executive Pleads Guilty to Trade Theft". The New York Times. Retrieved 2020-05-03.
  70. ^ "Dianne Feinstein is a tested leader". San Francisco Chronicle.
  71. ^ "California Today: Kevin de León Confronts a Crisis in the Capital". The New York Times.
  72. ^ Eskenazi, Joe. "Inside Men". San Francisco. Modern Luxury. Archived from the original on 7 December 2016.
  73. ^ "San Francisco Magazine | Modern Luxury | Inside Men". 2019-05-14. Archived from the original on 2019-05-14. Retrieved 2019-10-11.
  74. ^ Francisco, UC Hastings Law | San (2019-04-29). "Communications Strategist Nathan Ballard '99 was Primed for Politics". UC Hastings Law | San Francisco. Retrieved 2019-11-18.
  75. ^ "Longtime Newsom adviser Nathan Ballard charged with felony domestic violence". 4 December 2020.
  76. ^ Marinucci, Carla; White, Jeremy B.; Tzul, Richard. "DOUG OSE's gubernatorial bid — LANHEE CHEN mulling CONTROLLER bid — NATHAN BALLARD trial date in July — JENNER's trans slight?". POLITICO. Retrieved 2021-06-17.
  77. ^ "Former Newsom aide Nathan Ballard takes misdemeanor plea deal in domestic violence incident with wife". 22 July 2021.
  78. ^ "'This Is Who He Is': Mara Reinhardt Reveals Extent of Alleged Family Abuse by Prominent SF Politico Nate Ballard".