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Howard Berman

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Howard Berman

Howard Berman
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 28th district
In office
January 3, 2003 – January 3, 2013
Preceded by David Dreier
Succeeded by Adam Schiff
Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs
In office
February 11, 2008 – January 3, 2011
Preceded by Tom Lantos
Succeeded by Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 26th district
In office
January 3, 1983 – January 3, 2003
Preceded by John H. Rousselot
Succeeded by David Dreier
California State Assembly Majority Leader
In office
Preceded by Jack R. Fenton
Succeeded by Willie Brown
Member of the California State Assembly
from the 43rd district
In office
January 3, 1975 – January 3, 1983
Preceded by Michael D. Antonovich
Succeeded by Gray Davis
Member of the California State Assembly
from the 57th district
In office
January 3, 1973 – January 3, 1975
Preceded by Charles J. Conrad
Succeeded by Mike Cullen
Personal details
Born Howard Lawrence Berman
(1941-04-15) April 15, 1941
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Janis Berman
Children Brinley Berman
Lindsey Berman
Residence Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Alma mater University of California, Los Angeles
Occupation Attorney
Religion Judaism[1]

Howard Lawrence Berman (born April 15, 1941) is an attorney and former U.S. Representative, last serving California's 28th congressional district, serving in Congress from 1983 to 2013. The district, numbered as the 26th District from 1983 to 2003, included about half of the San Fernando Valley. Berman is a Democrat.


  • Early life, education, and legal career 1
  • California Assembly 2
    • Elections 2.1
    • Tenure 2.2
    • Committee assignments 2.3
  • U.S. House of Representatives 3
    • Elections 3.1
      • 1982 3.1.1
      • 1984 through 2010 3.1.2
      • 2012 3.1.3
    • Political positions 3.2
      • Copyright law 3.2.1
      • Iraq 3.2.2
      • Israel 3.2.3
      • Immigration 3.2.4
      • Investments 3.2.5
      • Ethics 3.2.6
    • Committee assignments 3.3
      • Caucus memberships 3.3.1
  • Career after Congress 4
  • Personal life 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Early life, education, and legal career

Berman was born in Los Angeles, California, to Jewish parents,[2] the son of Eleanor (née Schapiro) and Joseph Berman. His maternal grandparents immigrated from Russia.[3] Berman grew up in modest circumstances. He graduated from Alexander Hamilton High School (Los Angeles) (1959), and earned his B.A. (1962, international relations) and LL.B. (1965) at University of California, Los Angeles. Blanche Bettington, his high school civics teacher, inspired him to enter politics and government.[4] He was a VISTA volunteer (1966–1967) in Baltimore and San Francisco, and was an associate at a Los Angeles law firm (1967–72) specializing in labor relations.[5][6][7][8][9][10]

Berman was active in the Bruin Democrats at UCLA. He began his friendship with Henry Waxman there in 1960, when both were still undergraduates. Waxman was head of the YD liberal caucus, and through it ran the YDs. Both of them supported Adlai E. Stevenson's pursuit of the presidential nomination up to the eve of the 1960 convention. Berman was president of the California Young Democrats 1967–1969. He and Waxman co-founded the Los Angeles County Young Democrats, which grew to become one of the largest young professional clubs in Southern California.

Berman was a convention delegate to the 1968 (Chicago), 1976, and 1984 Democratic National Conventions.

California Assembly


Berman won election to the Assembly in 1972 from a district in the Hollywood Hills, unseating the incumbent Republican Speaker pro-tempore. His brother Michael, campaign manager in Henry Waxman's 1968 Assembly race, again ran a targeted mail operation.


In 1974 Berman and Waxman both opposed Willie Brown's unsuccessful revolt against Speaker of the California State Assembly Leo McCarthy, who rewarded Berman's loyalty by appointing him the youngest majority leader in the Assembly's history. McCarthy fired Berman when he tried to replace him in 1980.

Although McCarthy failed to retain the Speakership, Berman failed to win it; and Brown became Speaker. Other members remarked on what a tough politician he was; the Bermans helped arrange a primary defeat for at least one colleague (Jack R. Fenton) who had opposed his bid.[5][8][11][12][13]

Committee assignments

He also served as Chairman of the Assembly Democratic Caucus and on the Policy Research Management Committee of the Assembly.[8]

U.S. House of Representatives



After redistricting made the 26th District significantly more Democratic, incumbent Republican U.S. Congressman John Harbin Rousselot decided to run in California's 30th congressional district in 1982. Berman won the Democratic primary for the open seat with 83%.[14] He won the general election with 60% of the vote.[15]

1984 through 2010

Berman was reelected 14 times, never dropping below 61% of the vote, from 1984 through 2010.[16]

The 2000 census allocated California one new House seat, 53 in all. Berman, "dad of the delegation" on redistricting, made a deal with Republicans Tom Davis and David Dreier to keep 34 safe seats for Democrats, add one new Republican district, and protect 19 incumbent Republicans. Many California Democrats in the House and California State Senate hired Michael Berman, Howard Berman's brother, as a redistricting consultant, for a fee of $20,000 each.[17] When the August 2001 plan was unveiled, Congressman Brad Sherman, a fellow Democrat from California, complained that it undermined the safety of his seat with too many Hispanic voters, saying "Howard Berman stabbed me in the back."[18] Berman agreed to redraw the boundary between their districts, giving himself 56% and Sherman 37% Latino population. The redistricting plan survived a court challenge from the MALDEF, which argued that the redistricting diluted Hispanic representation.[9] The Republicans suffered some slippage; they had only 19 members in the delegation to the 110th Congress.[6]

From 2001 to 2006, Berman paid his brother Michael Berman's consulting firm Berman & D'Agostino $195,000 from campaign funds.[19] In the 2002 campaign, Berman & D'Agostino was paid $75,000 in political consulting fees. In 2005, $50,000 in consulting fees were paid to the company, and Michael Berman himself was paid a further $80,500 in campaign management and consulting fees. In 2006, $70,000 was paid in consulting fees.[20]


Following redistricting, Berman decided to run in the newly redrawn California's 30th congressional district. Sherman had the advantage because he previously represented over half of the district.[21] About 60% of voters of the new 30th district resided in Sherman's former district, while just 20% of voters resided in Berman's.[22][23]

The race, unprecedented in pitting two very similar candidates of the same party against each other in the general election, was called a "slugfest".[24] Berman received the endorsements from about two-thirds of California's Democratic congressional delegation. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has not endorsed either candidate in the election.[25][26] Sherman received the endorsements from Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, State Controller John Chiang, former President Bill Clinton, and U.S. Congressman John Conyers (D-MI).[27]

On June 5, 2012, Sherman ranked first in the seven-candidate open primary with 42% of the vote. Berman ranked second with 26% of the vote.[28] Due to a new election system in California, which puts the two primary candidates with the highest votes into general election, Berman faced fellow Democrat Brad Sherman in November.[29] Berman ran as the more conservative Democrat, hoping to divide the Democratic vote and dominate in the independent and conservative vote. However, in the November general election, Sherman defeated Berman 60%–40%.[30][31]

Political positions

Berman has been described as "one of the most creative members of the House and one of the most clear-sighted operators in American politics." He has been an active legislator on several issues, but has also been described as "not one who gets much publicity."[32]

Berman was the House sponsor of the 1986 False Claims Act that authorized civil litigation by whistleblowers. It led to recoveries for the United States Government exceeding one billion dollars.[8]

Berman has championed protecting American film industry jobs from outsourcing ("runaway production"). He has also voted against amending the constitution to require a balanced budget, banning the desecration of the American flag,[5] the Defense of Marriage Act, and restrictions on abortion.[5]

However, Berman concurs with many on the farm subsidy programs put into place by the administration of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt as part of the New Deal.

In Congress, Berman led the investigation into the conduct of house members in the Mark Foley Page scandal.[35]

In May 2012, Berman co-sponsored a bill with Republican David Drier to reinstate tax credits given to films produced mainly in the United States. The credits were active from 2008 until 2011, and were aimed at keeping films in Hollywood. Berman stressed that we "must make every effort to keep American productions here in the United States."[36]

Copyright law

Berman is known for his protection of copyright interests and his alliances with the entertainment industry; he is sometimes referred to as the "representative from Hollywood."[37] The major industry contributing to his election campaigns has been the entertainment industry.[38] He proposed legislation under which copyright holders would be able to employ technological tools such as file blocking, redirection, spoofs, and decoys—among others—to curb piracy (Peer to Peer Piracy Prevention Act). He has been named as one of the primary politicians involved in the creation of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA).[39] In a September 2008 hearing of the House Intellectual Property Subcommittee, Berman criticized the National Institutes of Health's policy requiring NIH-sponsored research to be submitted to a database open to the public by saying that "the N in NIH shouldn't stand for Napster".[40][41]


According to LA Weekly, "Berman played a key and under-appreciated role in securing passage of a resolution that gave President George W. Bush broad authority to use force."[42] The National Journal reports that Berman, "played a critical role in winning passage by a wide margin of the Iraq War resolution in October 2002. He strongly supported military action against Iraq, and in September he organized a group of Democrats who shared his views. Berman's discussions led to Minority Leader Richard Gephardt's agreement with the administration on the terms of the resolution—talks that undercut the demands of other senior Democrats, including then Minority Whip Nancy Pelosi and Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Joseph Biden. In June 2006, Berman voted for the Republican resolution to reject a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq."[32]


Berman is also a supporter of

California Assembly
Preceded by
Charles J. Conrad
California State Assemblyman, 57th District
Succeeded by
Mike Cullen
Preceded by
Michael D. Antonovich
California State Assemblyman, 43rd District
Succeeded by
Gray Davis
Preceded by
Jack R. Fenton
California State Assembly Majority Leader
Succeeded by
Willie Brown
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Tom Lantos
Chairman of House Committee on Foreign Affairs
Succeeded by
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
Preceded by
John H. Rousselot
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 26th congressional district

Succeeded by
David Dreier
Preceded by
David Dreier
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 28th congressional district

Succeeded by
Adam Schiff

External links

  1. ^ National Jewish Democratic Council, "Jewish Members of Congress". Retrieved 2010-09-24.
  2. ^ Zach Silberman (June 25, 2012). "Calif. Rep. Howard Berman raps coalition behind anti-Israel billboards".  
  3. ^ "1. Howard Lawrence Berman". Retrieved 2012-09-10. 
  4. ^ Reich, Kenneth (March 3, 2001). "Obituaries – Blanche Bettington; Inspired Generations in L.A. Schools".  
  5. ^ a b c d e  
  6. ^ a b c d e f g  
  7. ^ a b c "Politics, Breaking News, US and World News – Howard Berman".  
  8. ^ a b c d e f "Howard L Berman." Carroll's Federal Directory. Carroll Publishing, 2008. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Gale, 2008. Document Number: K2415002198. Fee, via Fairfax County Public Library.
  9. ^ a b c  
  10. ^ a b c "Howard Lawrence Berman." Marquis Who's Who TM. Marquis Who's Who, 2008. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Gale, 2008. Document Number: K2017593147. Fee.
  11. ^ Meyerson, Harold (1994-12-04). "The Liberal Lion in Winter. The Democrats' Legislative Genius, Los Angeles Congressman Henry A. Waxman is Back on Defense".  
  12. ^ Vassar, Alex; Shane Meyers. "11-07-1992 Election". Join California. One Voter Project. Retrieved 2008-09-19. 
  13. ^ Isoardi, Steven L. (1994, 1995). "Oral History Interview with Tom Bane" (PDF). State Government Oral History Program. California State Archives. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 11, 2007. Retrieved 2008-09-18. On top of that, Michael Berman was after votes. He figured if he'd knock off Jack Fenton, another vote for Howard.... He did it to Jack Fenton, he'd do it to them. 
  14. ^ "CA District 26 – D Primary Race – Jun 08, 1982". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2012-09-10. 
  15. ^ "CA District 26 Race – Nov 02, 1982". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2012-09-10. 
  16. ^ "Candidate – Howard L. Berman". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2012-09-10. 
  17. ^ "Editorial: Prop. 27 would strangle redistricting reform in the cradle".  
  18. ^ Finnegan, Michael (September 8, 2001). "Neighboring L.A. Democrats Trade Barbs Over Redistricting".  
  19. ^ "Related recipients".  
  20. ^ "Family Affair" (PDF). Citizens for Ethics. 2007-06-19. 
  21. ^
  22. ^ "Lines Redrawn, Longtime Allies Fight for a Seat". The New York Times. 
  23. ^ "Clone Wars". The Atlantic. 
  24. ^ "California Open Primary Leads to Democratic Slugfest". IVN. Retrieved 23 July 2012. 
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^ "Rep. Sherman Tops Rep. Berman in Calif. Dem Primary". ABC News. 
  29. ^ Slosson, Mary (6 June 2012). "Democrats face Democrats in new California election system". Reuters. Retrieved 12 June 2012. 
  30. ^
  31. ^ Michelle Quinn (November 7, 2012). "Brad Sherman defeats Howard Berman after bitter fight". Politico. Retrieved 2012-11-07. 
  32. ^ a b "Rep. Howard Berman (D)". The National Journal Almanac. Retrieved 21 June 2012. 
  33. ^ "Final Vote Results for Roll Call 145: Agree to the Senate Amendment with an Amendment". U.S. House of Representatives. Retrieved 2008-09-18. To amend the  
  34. ^ Sutton, Linda (2007-05-17). "Peace Activists Target Cong. Howard Berman". Truth Now Sunday (Los Angeles Independent Media Center). Retrieved 2008-09-20. About 40 peace activists from multiple groups in the  
  35. ^ "No House Members Broke Rules in Ex-Rep. Foley's Congressional Page Scandal". Fox News. 2011-10-21. 
  36. ^ Daunt, Tina (18 May 2012). "Rep. Howard Berman Seeks Tax Credit Extensions for U.S. Film Production". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 12 June 2012. 
  37. ^ a b Guttman, Nathan (2008-04-24). "New Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Draws Praise From All Sides".  
  38. ^ "Howard L. Berman: Campaign Finance/Money summary". Open Secrets. 
  39. ^ "Proposed US ACTA multi-lateral intellectual property trade agreement (2007)". WikiLeaks. 2008-05-22. 
  40. ^ "Hearing on: H.R. 6845, the "Fair Copyright in Research Works Act". United States House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary. 2008-09-11. 
  41. ^ "Backlash against open access". Ars Technica. 2008-09-16. 
  42. ^ "The Iraq Vote: Howard Berman's Most Momentous Achievement Is One He's Come to Regret". LA Weekly. 
  43. ^ Rep. Howard Berman [D-CA28] (2011-07-19). "Antiboycott Act (H.R. 2589)". Retrieved 2012-09-10. 
  44. ^ Tapper, Jake (June 11, 2003). "How Ashcroft beats a full House". Salon. Retrieved 2012-09-10. 
  45. ^ Bacon, David (November–December 2001). "Braceros or Amnesty". Dollars & Sense. Retrieved 2012-09-10. 
  46. ^ Le Templar (December 9, 2005). "Guest worker plan dropped from House immigration bill". East Valley Tribune. Retrieved 2012-09-10. 
  47. ^ Abid, Aslam (2008-04-07). "FINANCE: U.S. Lawmakers Invested in Iraq, Afghanistan Wars".  
  48. ^ Mayer, Lindsay Renick (2008-04-03). "Strategic Assets". Capital Eye. Center for Responsive Politics. Retrieved 2008-09-18. ... lawmakers are personally invested in companies reaping billions of dollars from defense contracts. 
  49. ^ Potter, Matthew (November 13, 2008). "Top Defense Contractors by Revenue".  
  50. ^ "Top 20 defense contractors". Defense Systems News. May 28, 2010. Retrieved 2010-12-04. 
  51. ^  
  52. ^ Archived June 26, 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  53. ^ Robert, Brodsky (2006-06-14). "Ethics Committee Members, Staff Among the Well-Traveled. House legislators mulling rules and their aides took about $1 million in trips".  
  54. ^ "Sponsor Profile – Aspen Institute".  
  55. ^
  56. ^ "". Retrieved 2014-10-16. 
  57. ^ "2000 Farmworker Justice Award Presented to Rep. Howard Berman" (PDF). Farmworker Justice News, Summer 2000 (Farmworker Justice Fund, Inc.). 2000-07-18. p. 4. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 29, 2006. Retrieved 2008-01-16. The Board of Directors of the Farmworker Justice Fund, Inc. presented the 2000 Farmworker Justice Award to Rep. Howard Berman of California. The presentation was made by Dolores Huerta, Secretary-Treasurer of the United Farm Workers, a long time friend of Howard Berman. The award reception was held at the Mott House in Washington, D.C. during the evening of May 24, 2000. 
  58. ^ "Farmworker Justice Award 2000". Farmworker Justice Fund. Archived from the original on June 8, 2003. 


Memberships and awards

Berman married Janis Gail Schwarz in 1979; they have two daughters, Brinley and Lindsey.[5][6][7][8][9][10]

Personal life

In April 2013, Berman announced he would be joining the Washington law firm Covington & Burling as a senior advisor in March 2013.[55] Berman also serves on the Board of Directors of the National Democratic Institute.[56]

Career after Congress

Caucus memberships

Committee assignments

Center for Public Integrity reported in 2006 that members of the House Ethics Committee and their staffs had taken many privately sponsored trips, about 400 trips from 2000 to mid-2005, at a total expense nearly $1 million. Of these, Democrats took about 80% of the trips at about 70% of the cost. Berman and his staff were at the top of the chart, with trips costing more than $245,000. Berman himself had taken 14 trips at the Aspen Institute's expense, including two to China with Mrs. Berman. Aspen replied that its events for members were like graduate seminars, and did not push any policy agenda. "Gene Smith, Berman's chief of staff, said that the bulk of the congressman's foreign travel can be attributed to his being a senior member on the House Committee on International Relations." Five private groups (Campaign Legal Center, Democracy 21, the League of Women Voters, Public Citizen and U.S. PIRG) jointly sent a letter to the ethics committee urging it ban or restrict such travel.[53][54]

Alan Mollohan, ranking member of the House Ethics Committee, resigned from the committee after he himself became the subject of an ethics complaint. Berman had been its senior Democrat 1997–2003, and on 2006-10-05 Minority leader Nancy Pelosi reappointed him to replace Mollohan. Berman served on the subcommittee investigating the House's page program in the wake of the Mark Foley scandal.[6][51][52] "This is an honor I could have done without."[6]


The Center for Responsive Politics named 151 members of Congress who had investments (as of year end 2006) in companies that do business with the United States Department of Defense, suggesting that such holdings conflict with their responsibility for U.S. security policy. The most important such companies, ranked by estimated total value of members' holdings, were Procter & Gamble, General Electric, Pepsi, ExxonMobil, Berkshire Hathaway, IBM, Microsoft, Johnson & Johnson, H. J. Heinz Company, and Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company. CRP identified the top ten members of Congress, and the report named no other members among the 151, save committee chairmen Sen. Joseph Lieberman and Rep. Berman.[47][48] None of the firms listed above ranked among the top ten DOD contractors in 2008,[49] nor in the top twenty for 2009.[50]


In 2000, Berman along with then US Senator from Oregon, Gordon Smith, proposed an amnesty, which would have granted legal status to hundreds of thousands of undocumented farm laborers. In exchange, requirements that growers provide housing to guest workers, and pay them a minimum wage adjusted annually for inflation, would have been relaxed.[45] In 2005, Berman was part of the bipartisan group in Congress who fought against immigration reform efforts.[46] That path to citizenship was also supported by President George W. Bush and Senator John McCain.

In 2003, Berman expressed his concerns over the Patriot Act with then US Attorney General John Ashcroft, specifically on the method to hold illegal immigrants until they prove they are not terrorists.[44]



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