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Katy Grimes

New CA Labor Secretary David Lanier, man of mystery

David Lanier has his hands full.  Formerly Gov. Jerry Brown’s legislative affairs secretary, on Nov. 6 the governor gave him the nod to be the California’s new secretary of the Labor and Workforce Development Agency.

Lanier takes charge more than three months after the meltdown of the computers of the Employment Development Department.

reported on those problems earlier this month. The problems are supposed to be fixed by Dec. 31. The “fix” already has cost California taxpayers $100 million.

In September, following the computer update, 150,000 jobless Californians were cut from unemployment benefits. The EDD blamed a computer glitch and said it would take weeks to fix. But according to claimants I spoke with, unpaid claims continue.


Over the past month, extensive research on the Internet, on NexisLexis and from interviews, uncovered scant information about Lanier beyond his official biography and the governor’s press release. From 1993 until his first Brown appointment in 2011, he has been a professional staffer in the Legislature:

“[He worked] as special advisor to the Speaker at the California State Assembly Speaker’s Office of Member Services from 1999 to 2011. Lanier was chief of staff for California State Assemblymember Grace Napolitano from 1997 to 1998, consultant for the Joint Legislative Government Oversight Task Force from 1996 to 1997 and legislative director for California State Assemblymember Carole Migden from 1995 to 1996. He began working in the capitol as a legislative aide in 1993.”

Two Sacramento Bee stories from 2012 with information about Lanier have disappeared from the Bee’s website. I asked Bee columnist and editorial page editor Dan Morain to send me a copy of a story he wrote, but did not hear receive a response.

The Bee stories, still offline, were about legislative staff members who own and run side political consulting businesses. Lanier was named in both of the stories.

“David Lanier, a former Assembly consultant who now works for Gov. Jerry Brown, disclosed in 2010 his role as owner and partner of Priority Political,” the Sacramento Bee reported Nov. 7, 2012. “The firm earned between $10,001 and $100,000 that year, according to his statement of economic interest.”

The second story, “California legislative staffers moonlight in campaign jobs,” still has a link on the Internet, and is listed on the Sacramento Bee’s blog, but the link is no longer any good., which usually has good information, merely repeated the official bio and included a tiny, low resolution picture of Lanier.


I also requested the Fair Political Practice Commission Form 700 Statement of Economic Interests for Lanier, going all the way back to his legislative staffer days when he worked for Democratic Assemblywoman Grace Napolitano and Democratic Sen. Carole Migden in the mid-1990′s.

The FPPC is typically very good about responding to these requests. But this time, has not received a response after more than a week.

I contacted Kurt Schuparra, assistant secretary for research and policy development at the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency. Schuparra was appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2012. told Schuparra it was concerned about the lack of information about California’s newest labor secretary, asking if there was more about background. “Should anything happen to Jerry Brown, he’s not taking over for the Governor,” Schuparra said.

“He decided to do the same thing his predecessor did, with a brief bio online, and no picture,” Schuparra added.

Specifically, I asked Schuparra what Lanier’s job entailed as “Special Advisor” to assembly speakers. He said he would reply though email, after speaking with Lanier about my request. Schuparra has yet to respond.

California Labor and Workforce agency

The labor secretary heads up all of the state’s labor agencies. Lanier replaced Marty Morgenstern, 78, a longtime Brown aide who will become a senior adviser to Brown, who is 75. Morgenstern was Brown’s labor negotiator during the governor’s first stint in the office in the 1970s. Lanier is 46, indicating a changing of the generational guard.

The California Labor and Workforce agency was created in 2002 by former Democratic Gov. Gray Davis, who was recalled by voters in 2003.

The Labor agency has an annual Budget of $14.8 billion, and has 12,859 employees, according to

The cabinet-level agency is the parent agency for eight state agencies:

Agricultural Labor Relations Board

California Employment Development Department

California Public Employment Relations Board

California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board

California Workforce Investment Board

Department of Industrial Relations/ Labor Commissioner

Employment Training Panel

– See more at:

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