Tony West (attorney)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Tony West
TonyWest-Official DOJ Portrait.jpg
United States Associate Attorney General
In office
March 9, 2012 – September 2014
President Barack Obama
Preceded by Thomas Perrelli
Personal details
Born Derek Anthony West
(1965-08-12) August 12, 1965 (age 51)
San Francisco, California, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Education Harvard University (A.B.)
Stanford Law School (J.D.)

Tony West (born August 12, 1965) is an American lawyer who currently serves as Executive Vice President of Government Affairs, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary for PepsiCo, Inc.[1] West previously served as the Associate Attorney General of the United States, the third highest-ranking official in the United States Department of Justice, and Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Division, the largest litigating division in the Department of Justice.[2] In September 2014, when Attorney General Eric Holder announced his intention to step down, West was speculated as being a potential successor as the next United States Attorney General.[3][4][5]

During his time at the Department, West played an integral role in the Obama Administration's decision to stop defending the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) after concluding that the statute was unconstitutional.[6]

West also secured nearly $37 billion for American consumers and investors harmed by the financial crisis[7] and elevated the Department's efforts to improve public safety in Indian country, including the landmark tribal provisions in the 2013 reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).[8][9][10] On August 21, 2014, West secured a $16.65 billion settlement with Bank of America – the largest settlement with a single entity in American history — to resolve federal and state claims against Bank of America and its former and current subsidiaries, including Countrywide Financial Corporation and Merrill Lynch.[11][12]

Early life and education[edit]

Tony West was born in San Francisco, California, to parents Franklin and Peggy West.[13][14] His father, the first person in his family to attend college, was born and raised in Georgia and worked for IBM; while his mother, who was a teacher, was born and raised in Alabama.[13][15] West was raised in San Jose, California, where he lived with his two younger sisters; Pamela and Patricia.[16] He attended Bellarmine College Preparatory, a Catholic, all-male, private secondary school, where he served as freshman class president, before graduating in 1983.[17]

West received his Bachelor of Arts in government from Harvard University in 1987, where he served as the Publisher of the Harvard Political Review.[18] In 1988, West began volunteering and working on political campaigns, engaging in Democratic political causes, such as working as the chief of staff to the Boston, Massachusetts treasurer of Michael Dukakis's presidential campaign.[19] West also served as a finance director to the Democratic Governors Association, until 1989.[19] He received his Juris Doctor from Stanford Law School in 1992, where he served as the President of the Stanford Law Review.[20] While attending Stanford, he worked as a summer intern for Swidler Berlin Shereff Friedman in 1990.[19] He also worked as a summer intern for Tuttle & Taylor, and Morrison & Foerster in 1991.[13]


After graduating, West continued his work in Democratic politics, working as chief of staff to the finance chair of the California Democratic Party, while also working in private practice as an associate at the Bingham McCutchen San Jose office, from 1992 to 1993.[13] In 1993, he joined the State Bar of California, and was admitted to the Superior Court of California and the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.[19]

From 1999 to 2001, he was a Special Assistant Attorney General in the Office of the California Attorney General, under Bill Lockyer.[21][22] From 2001 to 2009, he was a litigation partner at Morrison & Foerster LLP in San Francisco.[23] He also served as the California co-chairman of Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign.[24]

U.S. Department of Justice[edit]

West began his career at the Justice Department when he joined the Clinton administration in 1993, as a Special Assistant under Philip Heymann, the Deputy Attorney General of the United States Department of Justice,[25] until 1994, when he was appointed as an Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA) for the Northern District of California.[21] As an Assistant U.S. Attorney, West prosecuted child sexual exploitation, fraud, narcotics distribution, interstate theft, and high tech crime.[26]


In 2009, West returned to the Justice Department when President Obama nominated him to serve as Assistant Attorney General of the Department of Justice Civil Division.[27]

Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)[edit]

West led the Obama Administration's review of the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which ultimately resulted in President Obama's and Attorney General Holder's decision to stop defending DOMA and paved the way for the Supreme Court's ruling that the Constitution guarantees the right to same-sex marriage.[28][29][30]

Protecting Taxpayers and Consumers[edit]

In addition to focusing on traditional areas of the Civil Division's work, West helped the department further its most important priority – protecting national security.[31] He also bolstered the division's affirmative civil enforcement efforts in areas such as health care fraud, mortgage fraud, and procurement fraud to recover taxpayer money lost to fraud and abuse, resulting in unprecedented monetary recoveries. During his tenure at the helm of the Civil Division, the Division recovered more than $8.8 billion in taxpayer money under the False Claims Act—the largest three-year total in history at the time of West's departure from the Division.[32] On the consumer protection front, West oversaw cases that resulted in more than 115 criminal convictions, as well as recoveries of more than $3.5 billion, during his three-year tenure.[33]

Preemption Lawsuits Challenging State Immigration Laws[edit]

West was personally involved in the Department's preemption lawsuits challenging immigration laws passed in Arizona, Alabama, South Carolina, and Utah.[34][35][36] The Department's core arguments—that each of the states' immigration laws is constitutionally preempted, because it is the federal government and not the states that is vested with the primary authority and the primary responsibility in immigration matters—ultimately prevailed in the Supreme Court.[37]


Beginning on March 9, 2012, West served as the Acting Associate Attorney General until the U.S. Senate confirmed West to be Associate Attorney General in a 98-1 vote on July 25, 2013.[38][31] In 2014, Mr. West was awarded the Department's highest award, the Edmund J. Randolph Award. The Award, named for the first Attorney General of the United States, appointed by President George Washington, recognizes outstanding contributions to the accomplishments of the Department's mission.[39]

Financial Fraud[edit]

As Associate Attorney General, West led the Department’s efforts to combat financial fraud, securing record-breaking civil penalties and large global civil settlements against financial institutions in connection with their roles in precipitating the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.[40] These include two of the largest civil resolutions against a single entity in American history: Bank of America ($16.65 billion) and JPMorgan ($13 billion).[41] In total, West’s efforts recovered nearly $37 billion for American consumers and investors harmed by the financial crisis.[42][43] With each settlement, along with landmark monetary penalties, Mr. West has insisted on a robust statement of facts outlining each institution’s conduct, as well as meaningful consumer relief to assist homeowners across the country who are still struggling to recover from the financial crisis.[44][45]

Additionally, Mr. West led the Department’s investigation and filing of a civil lawsuit against the credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s Rating Services for allegedly engaging in a scheme to defraud investors in structured financial products, resulting in the loss of billions of dollars by investors, many of whom are federally-insured financial institutions.[46][47] The investigation and lawsuit involved collaboration with several state attorneys general offices, a number of which also filed civil fraud lawsuits against S&P alleging similar misconduct in the rating of structured financial products.[48]

Civil and Constitutional Rights[edit]

As Associate Attorney General, West continued his commitment to upholding the civil and constitutional rights of all Americans, particularly in the areas of constitutional policing, indigent defense, and voting rights.

West led the Department’s engagement with state, local, and tribal law enforcement on variety of issues, particularly strengthening the relationship between law enforcement and communities of color.[49] Through the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Office, Mr. West promoted collaborative reform efforts that allowed the Department to work with local law enforcement who were committed to instituting constitutional policing policies and procedures.[50][51]

West also oversaw constitutional policing enforcement actions by the Civil Rights Division and personally led the Department’s negotiations with Puerto Rico to reach a historic agreement that requires the Commonwealth’s police department to implement and sustain a wide-range of constitutional policies and procedures, including those that address use of force, equal protection and non-discrimination, and community engagement.[52]

West also led the Department’s commitment to supporting the provision of indigent legal defense.[53] In June 2014, West represented the United States at the U.N.’s International Conference on Access to Legal Aid in the Criminal Justice Systems in South Africa.[54]

Associate Attorney General Tony West visits Nelson Mandela's cell on Robben Island, South Africa in June 2014.

In 2013, West oversaw the Department’s unprecedented filing of a statement of interest in Wilbur v. City of Mount Vernon (WD Wash.), a class action lawsuit alleging that accused defendants were systemically denied effective assistance of counsel. Without taking a position on the merits of the case, the filing requested that if the court found constitutional violations, it consider workload controls for public defenders and appointment of an independent monitor to ensure compliance. [55]The plaintiffs in the case prevailed on the merits and the court required defendants to hire a part-time public defender supervisor to monitor and report the defendants’ delivery of indigent defense representation.[56]

West was also one of the Department's primary spokespersons on voting rights, overseeing the Civil Rights Division's work to protect access to the ballot box. In 2014, in an address to the Progressive National Baptist Convention, Mr. West said, "Our message is unequivocal: we will use every legal tool that remains available to us, against any jurisdiction that seeks to hinder eligible citizens’ full and free right to vote. When we see something that causes us concern, we won't hesitate to make it plain."[57]

Associate Attorney General Tony West speaks about voting rights at the Progressive National Baptist Convention in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, on August 5, 2014


In June 2014, West detailed Department plans to consult with tribes on a recommendation to Congress that would require election officials whose territory includes part of an Indian reservation or Alaska Native village to ensure at least one polling place is located in an area selected by the tribal government.[59] "[I]t is a tragic irony that in this country -- history's greatest democratic experiment -- it is First Americans who, for a variety of reasons, have, for decades, too often been deprived the right vote," West said in discussing the proposal.[60] "Standing by as Native voices, for whatever reason, are shut out of the democratic process is not an option."[61]

Indian Country[edit]

West championed tribal sovereignty and improved the federal government’s relationship with Native American communities through meaningful and frequent engagement, particularly in the areas of public safety, intimate partner violence, children's exposure to violence in Indian country, and voting rights.[62]

With his leadership and efforts to raise awareness of about the alarmingly high rate of violence against women in Indian country, the Department secured passage of tribal provisions in the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013, allowing tribes—for the first time in decades—to prosecute non-Indian perpetrators of domestic violence in Indian country. [63][64] West oversaw the extensive but expedited consultation with tribes to implement the Pilot Project, which allowed tribes to exercise the special domestic violence criminal jurisdiction over non-Indians ahead of the law’s March 2015 effective date.[65][66] West authorized three tribes – the Pascua Yaqui Tribe of Arizona, the Tulalip Tribes of Washington, and the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation – to become the first tribes in the country to exercise the new jurisdiction.[67]

Mr. West also oversaw the creation and work of the Attorney General’s Task Force on American Indian/Alaska Native Children Exposed to Violence, which included an Advisory Committee – chaired by Senator Byron Dorgan -- of non-federal experts and an interagency Federal Working Group of high-level federal officials.[68][69]


On October 7, 2014, PepsiCo, Inc. announced that West had joined the company as executive vice president of government affairs, general counsel and corporate secretary, effective November 24, 2014.[70] West succeeded Larry Thompson, who retired after almost a decade of service.[33] West is responsible for PepsiCo's worldwide legal function and government affairs organization, as well as the company's global compliance function and the PepsiCo Foundation.[33] He reports to PepsiCo Chairman and CEO Indra Nooyi.

Political campaigns[edit]

In 1998, West ran for a seat on the San Jose City Council.[71] In the primary, West's main challenger was Cindy Chavez, the staff director of Working Partnerships USA. He came in second to Chavez in the June 2nd primary, with 41.2% of the vote.[72] With help from many labor groups and organizations backing Chavez's campaign,[73] West was ultimately defeated, receiving 48% of the vote in the general election.[74]

West also ran for the California State Assembly, for the 23rd district, in 2000.[17] After incumbent Mike Honda ran for the U.S. House of Representatives, leaving a vacancy, West was one of six Democrats to run for the open seat. He was defeated in the primary, by San Jose City Councilman Manny Diaz; receiving 38% of the total votes cast.[75]

Personal life[edit]

West is married to Maya Harris, Senior Policy Adviser to Hillary Clinton and former Vice President of the Ford Foundation in New York City.[76] His sister-in-law is current Attorney General of California Kamala Harris.[24]


  1. ^ PepsiCo Names Tony West Executive Vice President, Government Affairs, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary(Oct. 7, 2014)
  2. ^ "Meet the Associate Attorney General". 
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ Jonathan Capehart, "Tony West, straight hero in fight for gay marriage, to leave Justice Department", Washington Post (Sept. 14, 2014)
  7. ^ Ben Protess, "Tony West, Top Nemesis of Big Banks, Is Leaving Justice," New York Times (Sept. 3, 2014)
  8. ^ Sari Horwitz,"Tony West, third-ranking official at Justice Department, to step down," Washington Post (Sept. 3, 2014).
  9. ^ "Acting Associate Attorney General Tony West Speaks at the 20th Annual Four Corners Indian Country Conference - OPA - Department of Justice".  line feed character in |title= at position 58 (help)
  10. ^ "Remarks by Associate Attorney General Tony West at the Four Corners Conference - OPA - Department of Justice". 
  11. ^ "Bank of America to Pay $16.65 Billion in Historic Justice Department Settlement for Financial Fraud Leading up to and During the Financial Crisis". 
  12. ^ Los Angeles Times (21 August 2014). "Bank of America to pay record $16.65 billion to settle mortgage claims". 
  13. ^ a b c d "Tony West Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division of the Department of Justice (since April 2009)". May 25, 2013. 
  14. ^ United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary (March 10, 2009). "Testimony of Tony West". 
  15. ^ Health Care Compliance Association (April 2011). "Meet Tony West Assistant Attorney General, Civil Division, United States Department of Justice" (PDF). 
  16. ^ United States Department of Justice (May 23, 2013). "Acting Associate Attorney General Tony West Testifies Before the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary". 
  17. ^ a b Phil Mattingly (April 9, 2013). "S&P Prosecutor's Stalled Nomination Is Bump in Fast-Track Career". 
  18. ^ Wayne State University (February 23, 2013). "Wayne Law to host talk by U.S. Assistant Attorney General Tony West March 8". 
  19. ^ a b c d 'United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary (November 16, 2012). "UNITED STATES SENATE COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY QUESTIONNAIRE FOR NON-JUDICIAL NOMINEES" (PDF). [dead link]
  20. ^ Leahy Hails Senate Confirmation Of West To No. 3 Position At DOJ (July 25, 2013)
  22. ^ United States Department of Justice (February 25, 2013). "Acting Associate Attorney General Tony West Speaks at the National Association of Attorneys General Winter/Spring Meeting". 
  23. ^ "Obama Nominates Tony West to Fill No. 3 DOJ Post Full-Time". Main Justice. 
  24. ^ a b Sari Horwitz (27 February 2012). "Justice Dept. lawyer Tony West to take over as acting associate attorney general". Washington Post. 
  25. ^ Sari Horowitz (February 27, 2012). "Justice Dept. lawyer Tony West to take over as acting associate attorney general". 
  26. ^ American Bar Association (May 26, 2012). "TONY WEST" (PDF). 
  27. ^ White House, "President Barack Obama Announces Key DOJ Appointees" (Jan. 22, 2009).
  28. ^ Jonathan Capehart, "Tony West, straight hero in fight for gay marriage, to leave Justice Department," Washington Post (Sept. 4, 2014)
  29. ^ "Book: How Barack Obama, Eric Holder agreed on DOMA plan," Politico (Apr. 18, 2014)
  30. ^ Adam Liptak, "Same-Sex Marriage Is a Right, Supreme Court Rules, 5-4," New York Times (June 26, 2015)
  31. ^ a b Attorney General Eric Holder Welcomes the Confirmation of Tony West as the Associate Attorney General of the United States (July 25, 2013)
  32. ^ "Holder Taps Tony West For DOJ's No. 3 Spot," Law360 (Feb. 27, 2012).
  33. ^ a b c Id.
  34. ^ "Obama Sues Ariz. Over Immigration Law". 
  35. ^ "Georgia, Ala. Immigration Laws Challenged In Court". 1 March 2012. 
  36. ^ "Confirm Tony West as Associate Attorney General of the U.S. Department of Justice". The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. 
  37. ^
  38. ^ "U.S. Senate: Roll Call Vote". 27 January 2015. 
  39. ^
  40. ^
  41. ^ Id.
  42. ^ Id.
  43. ^
  44. ^
  45. ^
  46. ^
  47. ^
  48. ^
  49. ^
  50. ^
  51. ^
  52. ^
  53. ^
  54. ^
  55. ^
  56. ^
  57. ^ Associate Attorney General Tony West Delivers Remarks at the Progressive National Baptist Convention, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, August 5, 2014,
  58. ^ "Associate Attorney General Tony West Delivers Remarks at the Progressive National Baptist Convention - OPA - Department of Justice". 
  59. ^ Associate Attorney General Tony West Speaks at the National Congress of American Indians 2014 Midyear Conference, Anchorage, Alaska, June 9, 2014,
  60. ^ Id.
  61. ^ Id.
  62. ^
  63. ^
  64. ^
  65. ^
  66. ^
  67. ^ Id.
  68. ^
  69. ^
  70. ^ PepsiCo, Inc. (7 October 2014). "PepsiCo Names Tony West Executive Vice President, Government Affairs, General Counsel and... -- PURCHASE, N.Y., Oct. 7, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --". 
  71. ^ Scott Herhold (May 21, 2013). "Herhold: Whatever happened to Zuckerberg, Mt. Umunhum and the Golden Spigot?". 
  72. ^ "Member, City Council; City of San Jose, Municipal Election; District 3". June 2, 1998. 
  73. ^ Eric Johnson (June 10, 2009). "Tony West's Triumphant Return". 
  74. ^ "City Offices for Santa Clara County, CA". November 3, 1998. 
  75. ^ Secretary of State of California (February 7, 2000). "Member of the State Assembly (by county within district)" (PDF). 
  76. ^ "Maya Harris: senior policy adviser to Hillary Clinton - Fortune". Fortune. 

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
Thomas Perrelli
United States Associate Attorney General