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Dianne Goldman Berman Feinstein (born June 22, 1933) is the senior U.S. Senator from Californiamarker and a member of the Democratic Party. Feinstein was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1992, after serving as Mayor of San Francisco from 1978 to 1988.

Feinstein holds a number of "firsts": She was the first female President of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, San Franciscomarker's first (and as of 2009, only) female mayor, the first woman to serve in the Senate from California, and the first woman to chair the Senate Rules Committee and Senate Intelligence Committee. Feinstein was also the first woman to preside over a U.S. presidential inauguration.

Early life

Feinstein was born Dianne Emiel Goldman in San Francisco to Betty Rosenburg, a former model, and Leon Goldman, a nationally renowned surgeon who was the first Jew tenured as a physician at the UCSF Medical Center in San Francisco. Feinstein's paternal grandparents were Jewish immigrants from Polandmarker, while her maternal grandparents, who were of the Russian Orthodox faith, left St. Petersburg, Russiamarker, after the 1917 Russian Revolution; Feinstein has two sisters, Lynne Kennedy and Yvonne Banks.

Feinstein attended the Convent of the Sacred Heart High School and was given a Catholic religious education, but also attended Hebrew school and was confirmed in the Jewish faith at the age of thirteen, having said that she has "always considered [herself] Jewish". She received her B.A. degree in history in 1955 from Stanford Universitymarker.

Personal life

In 1956, she married Jack Berman, a colleague in the San Francisco District Attorney's office. They were divorced three years later. Berman later became a judge; he died in 2002. Their daughter, Katherine Feinstein Mariano (b. 1957), is a superior-court judge in San Francisco.

In 1962, shortly after starting her career in politics, she married neurosurgeon Bertram Feinstein, who died of colon cancer in 1978.

In 1980, she married Richard C. Blum, an investment banker. In 2003, Feinstein was ranked the fifth-wealthiest senator, with an estimated net worth of $26 million. By 2005 her net worth had increased to between $43 million and $99 million. Her 347-page financial-disclosure statement characterized by the San Francisco Chronicle as "nearly the size of a phonebook" draws clear lines between her assets and those of her husband, with many of her assets in blind trusts.

Early political career

In 1961, Feinstein worked to end housing discrimination in San Francisco. Prior to elected service, she was appointed by then-California Governor Pat Brown to serve as a member of the California Women's Parole Board.

President of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors

In 1969, Feinstein was elected to the San Franciscomarker Board of Supervisors. She remained on the Board for nine years and became its first female president.

During her tenure on the Board of Supervisors, she unsuccessfully ran for mayor of San Francisco twice, in 1971 against mayor Joseph Alioto, and in 1975, when she lost the contest for a runoff slot (against George Moscone) by one percentage point, to supervisor John Barbagelata.

On November 27, 1978, San Francisco mayor George Moscone and supervisor Harvey Milk were assassinated by a rival politician, Dan White, who had resigned from the Board of Supervisors only two weeks prior. Feinstein was close by in City Hall at the time of the shootings, and discovered Milk's body after hearing the gunshots and going to investigate. Later that day at a press conference originally organized by Moscone to announce White's successor, Feinstein announced the assassinations to the stunned public, stating: "As president of the board of supervisors, it's my duty to make this announcement. Both Mayor Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk have been shot and killed."

Feinstein appears in archival footage and is credited in the Academy Award-winning documentary film The Times of Harvey Milk (1984). She appears again briefly in archival footage, announcing the death of Moscone and Milk in the 2008 film Milk. She and her position as President of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors are also alluded to several times in the movie, and a portrayal of her character has a few off-screen lines.

As president of the Board of Supervisors upon the death of Mayor Moscone, Feinstein succeeded to the mayoralty on December 4, 1978.

Mayor of San Francisco

As mayor of San Francisco, 1978-1988
Feinstein served out the remainder of the term and was elected in her own right in 1979 and re-elected in 1983.

One of the first challenges to face Feinstein as mayor was the state of the San Francisco cable car systemmarker. In late 1979, the system had to be shut down for emergency repairs, and an engineering evaluation concluded that it needed comprehensive rebuilding at a cost of $60 million. Feinstein took charge of the effort, and helped win federal funding for the bulk of the rebuilding job. The system closed for rebuilding in 1982 and reopened in 1984 in time for the Democratic National Convention that was held in the city that year. Feinstein also oversaw planning policies to increase the number of high rise buildings in San Francisco.

Perhaps because of her statewide ambitions, Feinstein was seen as a relatively moderate Democrat in one of the country's most liberal cities. As a supervisor, she was considered part of the centrist bloc that included Dan White and was generally opposed to Moscone. As mayor, Feinstein angered the city's large gay community by refusing to march in a gay rights parade and by vetoing domestic partner legislation in 1983. In the 1980 presidential election, while a majority of Bay Area Democrats continued to support Senator Ted Kennedy's primary challenge to President Jimmy Carter even after it was clear Kennedy could not win, Feinstein was a strong supporter of the Carter-Mondale ticket. She was given a high profile speaking role on the opening night of the August Democratic National Convention, urging delegates to reject the Kennedy delegates' proposal to "open" the convention, thereby allowing delegates to ignore their states' popular vote, a proposal that was soundly defeated.

In the run up to the 1984 Democratic National Convention, there was considerable media and public speculation that Democratic presidential nominee Walter Mondale might pick Feinstein as his running mate. However, he chose Geraldine Ferraro instead. Also in 1984, Feinstein proposed banning handguns in San Francisco, and became subject to a recall attempt organized by the White Panther Party. She won the recall election and finished her second term as mayor on January 8, 1988.

In 1985, at a press conference, Feinstein revealed details about the hunt for serial killer Richard Ramírez, and in so doing angered detectives by giving away details of his crimes.

In 1987, City and State magazine named Feinstein the nation's "Most Effective Mayor". Feinstein served on the Trilateral Commission during the 1980s while mayor of San Francisco.

Governor's election

In 1990, Feinstein made an unsuccessful bid for Governor of California. Although she won the Democratic Party's nomination for the office, she then lost in the general election to Republican Senator Pete Wilson, who vacated his seat in the Senate to assume the governorship. In 1992, she was fined $190,000 for failure to properly report campaign contributions and expenditures associated with that campaign.

U.S. Senate career

Official senate photo
On November 3, 1992, Feinstein won a special election to fill the Senate seat that became vacant in 1991 when Pete Wilson resigned to become governor (Wilson had then appointed John F. Seymour to that seat). The election was held at the same time as the general election for U.S. President and other offices. Barbara Boxer was elected at the same time for the Senate seat to be vacated by Alan Cranston. Because Feinstein was elected to an unexpired term, she became a senator as soon as the election was certified in November while Boxer would not take office until the expiration of Cranston's term in January; thus Feinstein became California's senior senator, even though she was elected at the same time as Barbara Boxer.

Feinstein was re-elected in 1994, 2000, and 2006.

A September 2009 poll has her approval rating at 46%, with 44% disapproving.

Committee assignments

Political positions and votes


Feinstein supported the Iraq war resolution in the vote of October 11, 2002; she has claimed that she was misled by President George W. Bush on the reasons for going to war. However, former UN Weapons Inspector in Iraqmarker Scott Ritter has stated that Feinstein in summer 2002 acknowledged to him that she knew the Bush administration had not provided any convincing intelligence to back up its claims about the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

The Center for Public Integrity has also reported that Senator Feinstein and her husband, Richard Blum, are making millions of dollars from Iraq and Afghanistan contracts through his company, Perini . Feinstein voted for the resolution giving President George W. Bush the authority to invade Iraq.

In October 2005 Feinstein introduced legislation to undermine what is known as the Alien Tort Claims Act, an old law dating back to the first years of the Republic that has been revived in recent years by human rights activists to hold corporations responsible for their actions in developing nations.

In February 2007, Feinstein warned Republicans not to block consideration of a measure opposing President Bush's troop increase in Iraq, saying it would be a "terrible mistake" to prevent debate.

In May 2007, Feinstein voted for an Emergency Supplemental Appropriations bill, which continued to fund the Iraq occupation without a firm timetable for withdrawal. She said "I am deeply disappointed that this bill fails to hold the President accountable for his Administration’s flawed Iraq War policy. The American people have made their voices clear that there must be an exit strategy for Iraq. Yet this President continues to stubbornly adhere to more of the same."

National security and civil liberties

In August 2007, Feinstein joined Republicans in the Senate in voting to modify the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) by removing persons targeted during a six months period from the aegis of the Constitution. There is confusion that the modifications of the Protect America Act only applied to telephone calls, and electronic surveillance; in fact, these only need be part of the targeting activity. It's noted that the FISA modification of the Protect America Act apply to both Americans, and non-Americans, alike. Feinstein voted to give the attorney general and the director of national intelligence the power to approve international surveillance of the communications of Americans entirely within the executive branch, rather than through the special intelligence court established by FISA. Many privacy advocates have decried this law and Feinstein's vote in favor of it.In February 2008, Feinstein joined Republicans in the Senate in voting for provisions providing ex-post immunity to telecommunication companies for illegal wiretapping which they conducted for government agencies.On July 9, 2008, Feinstein broke with counterpart Sen. Barbara Boxer and voted for the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, H.R. 6304.

Feinstein was the original Democratic co-sponsor of a bill to extend the USA PATRIOT Act. In a December 2005 statement, Feinstein stated, "I believe the Patriot Act is vital to the protection of the American people." She was the main Democratic sponsor of the failed 2006 constitutional Flag Desecration Amendment.In November 2007, Feinstein was one of only six Democrats to vote to confirm Michael Mukasey as Attorney General. She also voted for the McCain-Feingold legislation.

After heavily supporting Bush's Immigration Reform Bill, she mentioned that she was "looking into revising" the Fairness Doctrine, specifically targeting talk radio.

In February 2009, Feinstein revealed that Central Intelligence Agency drones which had been attacking Pakistanis in the northwest were in fact launched from Pakistanmarker. This had previously been kept secret, given the Government of Pakistan's attempt to appear independent of the US and popular Pakistani resentment of, and hostility to, the attacks.

Feinstein introduced an amendment to the 2009 stimulus bill which some activists believe would infringe on net neutrality. The network management amendment clarifies that in establishing obligations under the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program, the Assistant Secretary shall allow for reasonable network management practices such as deterring unlawful activity, including child pornography and copyright infringement.


Feinstein and her predecessor Senator Alan Cranston worked for over 10 years to pass the California Desert Protection Act. The bill was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1994. The bill protected of California's desert lands as wilderness and national parks. The Act doubled the size of the National Wilderness Preservation System in California and was the largest wilderness bill in California's history.

Senators Feinstein and Barbara Boxer were the champions of the Northern California Coastal Wild Heritage Wilderness Act, which was signed in to law by President George W. Bush on October 17, 2006. The bill protected of federal land as wilderness and of stream as a wild and scenic river, including such popular areas as the King Range and Cache Creek. Senators Feinstein and Boxer worked with Representative Mike Thompson, the sponsor of the bill in the House, in the 5-year effort to pass the legislation.

Feinstein, along with her colleague, Boxer, voted in favor of subsidy payments to conventional commodity farm producers at the cost of subsidies for conservation-oriented farming. More recently, Feinstein has not taken a stand on the widely criticized subsidies in the 2007 U.S. Farm Bill.

Feinstein objected to certain proposed solar and wind projects in California's Mojave Desert, asserting that such projects would harm the desert, and violate the intention of the environmentalists in their donation of the land to the state.

Feinstein opposed Secretary of the Interior Donald Hodel in 1981 when he called for the removal of the O'Shaughnessy Dammarker which created the Hetch Hetchy Reservoirmarker in 1923. She cited a 2006 report on the feasibility of the removal of the dam as proof that restoring Hetch Hetchy was "unwarranted" and "indefensible."

Gun politics

In 1993, Feinstein, along with then-Representative Charles Schumer (D-NY), led the fight to ban many semi-automatic firearms deemed to be assault weapons and restrict the sale of standard capacity firearm magazines. The ban was passed as part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. In 2004, when the ban was set to expire, Feinstein sponsored a 10-year extension of the ban as an amendment to the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act; while the amendment was successfully added, the act itself failed. The act was revived in 2005, but was ultimately passed without an extension of the assault weapons ban.

Feinstein said on CBS-TV's 60 Minutes, February 5, 1995, "If I could have gotten 51 votes in the Senate of the United States for an outright ban, picking up every one of them . . . Mr. and Mrs. America, turn 'em all in, I would have done it. I could not do that. The votes weren't here." In July 2006, Feinstein voted against the Vitter Amendment to prohibit Federal funds being used for the confiscation of lawfully owned firearms during a disaster.

Feinstein was accused of hypocrisy when it became public information that despite her stringent anti-gun record, the Senator maintained a Concealed Weapons permit and actively carried a .38 caliber Smith & Wesson revolver] for her personal safety. It is unknown if she still carries the concealed firearm or maintains the permit, but according to The Stentorian, San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown stated in 2000 that she had voluntarily relinquished both the concealed weapons permit and the firearm.
When challenged, she stated "I know the sense of helplessness that people feel. I know the urge to arm yourself because that's what I did. I was trained in firearms. I'd walk to the hospital when my husband was sick. I carried a concealed weapon. I made the determination that if somebody was going to try to take me out, I was going to take them with me."

In 1999, Jill Labbe, of the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader, recounted Mrs. Feinstein's actions at an anti-gun press conference, where Mrs. Feinstein displayed an AK-47 assault rifle. Despite her assertions of being trained in handling firearms, after picking it up, she broke multiple basic and commonly known firearms handling safety rules; placing her finger on the trigger, and then sweeping the muzzle across the room, pointing at people who were present.

Intellectual property and fair use

Feinstein has supported Hollywoodmarker and the content industry when it has come into conflict with recording piracy on intellectual property issues. In 2006 she cosponsored the "PERFORM Act" or the "Platform Equality and Remedies for Rights Holders in Music Act of 2006" to the Senate, which would require satellite, cable and internet broadcasters to incorporate digital rights management technologies into their transmission. Over the air broadcasting would not be affected. Feinstein's consistent backing of the content industry and attacks on fair use have earned her poor marks with the Electronic Frontier Foundation and IPac.

Bailout of 2008

On October 1, 2008, Feinstein voted in favor of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act (the $700 billion bailout).

Possible conflicts of interest

Feinstein has received scrutiny for her husband Richard Blum's extensive business dealings with Chinamarker and her past votes on trade issues with the country. Critics have argued that Feinstein's support, as a member of the Senate's Military Construction Appropriations subcommittee, of policies that may benefit her husband may raise the appearance of a conflict of interest. Suburban newspaper Metro Silicon Valley reported in 2007 that Blum holds large investments in companies that have won large government contracts without competitive bidding. In April 2007, Feinstein's office denied there was a conflict of interest and stated that her departure from the subcommittee had nothing to do with the reports in the Metro weeklies.

As of December 2006, according to U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings and, three corporations in which Blum's financial entities own a total of $1 billion in stock won considerable favor from the budgets of the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The Washington Times reported in April 2009 that in October 2008, Feinstein had requested $25 billion in extra federal funding for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), which days later granted real estate company Richard Ellis, on which Feinstein's husband serves on the board of directors, a contract to sell foreclosed homes on the FDIC's books.

2006 re-election

Feinstein was elected for a third full term in 2006. She defeated Republican Richard Mountjoy, Libertarian Michael Metti, Green Todd Chretien, and Peace and Freedom Marsha Feinland in the general election.

2008 Democratic nomination campaign

As a superdelegate, Feinstein had declared that she would support Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination. However, once Barack Obama became the presumptive nominee for the party, she fully backed his candidacy. Days after Obama amassed enough delegates to win the Democratic Party nomination, Feinstein lent her Washington, DC home to both Clinton and Obama to have a private one on one meeting.Feinstein did not attend the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denvermarker because she fell and broke her ankle.

She chaired the United States Congress Joint Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, and acted as master of ceremonies, introducing each participant at the 2009 presidential inauguration.

Potential 2010 campaign for governor

Feinstein has been reported as considering a run for Governor of California when Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is term limited. A private poll in July 2008 showed Feinstein far outpacing Jerry Brown, a former governor, 50 percent to 24 percent, with Congressman John Garamendi at 10 percent. A February 2009 poll showed that 36 percent of Democrats sampled in the poll said they would support Feinstein if she ran for governor. Brown earned 14 percent, followed by Gavin Newsom and Antonio Villaraigosa, who both pulled in 9 percent. 22 percent were undecided. By October, although undeclared, in a poll by Field Research she led the Democratic field with 52 percent of all voters and 68 percent of Democratic voters.

Awards and honors

Feinstein was presented with the Woodrow Wilson Award for public service by the Woodrow Wilson Centermarker of the Smithsonian Institution on November 3, 2001 in Los Angeles, Californiamarker.

Offices held

Public Offices
Office Type Location Elected Term began Term ended
Mayor Executive San Franciscomarker 1978 December 4, 1978 January 8, 1980
Mayor Executive San Franciscomarker 1979 January 8, 1980 January 8, 1984
Mayor Executive San Franciscomarker 1983 January 8, 1984 January 8, 1988
Senator Legislature Washington, D.C.marker 1992 November 10, 1992 January 3, 1995
Senator Legislature Washington, D.C.marker 1994 January 3, 1995 January 3, 2001
Senator Legislature Washington, D.C.marker 2000 January 3, 2001 January 3, 2007
Senator Legislature Washington, D.C.marker 2006 January 3, 2007 January 3, 2013

United States Senate service
Dates Congress Chamber Majority President Committees Class
1993–1995 103rd U.S. Senate Democratic Bill Clinton Rules, Judiciary, Appropriations, Intelligence 1
1995–1997 104th U.S. Senate Republican Bill Clinton Rules, Judiciary, Appropriations, Intelligence 1
1997–1999 105th U.S. Senate Republican Bill Clinton Rules, Judiciary, Appropriations, Intelligence 1
1999–2001 106th U.S. Senate Republican Bill Clinton Rules, Judiciary, Appropriations, Intelligence 1
2001–2003 107th U.S. Senate Democratic George W. Bush Rules, Judiciary, Appropriations, Intelligence 1
2003–2005 108th U.S. Senate Republican George W. Bush Rules, Judiciary, Appropriations, Intelligence 1
2005–2007 109th U.S. Senate Republican George W. Bush Rules, Judiciary, Appropriations, Intelligence 1
2007–2009 110th U.S. Senate Democratic George W. Bush Rules (chair), Judiciary, Appropriations, Intelligence 1
2009–2011 111th U.S. Senate Democratic Barack Obama Rules, Judiciary, Appropriations, Intelligence (chair) 1

Electoral history

See also


  5. Boxer, Feinstein have yet to reveal where they stand on farm bill
  6. Feinstein: Don't Spoil Our Desert With Solar Panels, Fox News, March 21, 2009
  7. A chance to reverse a dam shame, Los Angeles Times, July 27, 2006
  10. [1]

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