Howard Berman

Last updated
Howard Berman
Member of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from California
In office
January 3, 1983 January 3, 2013
Preceded by John H. Rousselot (26th)
David Dreier (28th)
Succeeded byDavid Dreier (26th)
Adam Schiff (28th)
Constituency 26th district (1983–2003)
28th district (2003–13)
Chair of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs
In office
February 11, 2008 January 3, 2011
Preceded by Tom Lantos
Succeeded by Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
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 byCharles J. Conrad
Succeeded byMike Cullen
Personal details
Howard Lawrence Berman

(1941-04-15) April 15, 1941 (age 77)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s)Janis Berman
ChildrenBrinley Berman
Lindsey Berman
Residence Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Alma mater University of California, Los Angeles (B.A., J.D.)
Occupation Attorney

Howard Lawrence Berman (born April 15, 1941) is an American 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.

United States House of Representatives lower house of the United States Congress

The United States House of Representatives is the lower chamber of the United States Congress, the Senate being the upper chamber. Together they compose the legislature of the United States.

Californias 28th congressional district American political district

California's 28th congressional district is a congressional district in the U.S. state of California, in Los Angeles County. The district is regarded as a Democratic stronghold and is currently represented by Democrat Adam Schiff.

San Fernando Valley large populated valley in Los Angeles County, California, USA

The San Fernando Valley is an urbanized valley in Los Angeles County, California in the Los Angeles metropolitan area, defined by the mountains of the Transverse Ranges circling it. Home to 1.77 million people, it is north of the larger, more populous Los Angeles Basin.


Berman was born in Los Angeles, California, to Jewish parents, [1] [2] the son of Eleanor (née Schapiro) and Joseph Berman. His maternal grandparents immigrated from Russia. [3] He graduated from Alexander Hamilton High School (Los Angeles) (1959), and earned his B.A. (1962, international relations) and LL.B. (1965) at UCLA. Blanche Bettington, his high school civics teacher, inspired him to enter politics and government. [4]

Los Angeles City in California

Los Angeles, officially the City of Los Angeles and often known by its initials L.A., is the most populous city in California, the second most populous city in the United States, after New York City, and the third most populous city in North America. With an estimated population of four million, Los Angeles is the cultural, financial, and commercial center of Southern California. The city is known for its Mediterranean climate, ethnic diversity, Hollywood and the entertainment industry, and its sprawling metropolis. Los Angeles is the largest city on the West Coast of North America.

Russia transcontinental country in Eastern Europe and Northern Asia

Russia, officially the Russian Federation, is a transcontinental country in Eastern Europe and North Asia. At 17,125,200 square kilometres (6,612,100 sq mi), Russia is by far or by a considerable margin the largest country in the world by area, covering more than one-eighth of the Earth's inhabited land area, and the ninth most populous, with about 146.77 million people as of 2019, including Crimea. About 77% of the population live in the western, European part of the country. Russia's capital, Moscow, is one of the largest cities in the world and the second largest city in Europe; other major cities include Saint Petersburg, Novosibirsk, Yekaterinburg and Nizhny Novgorod. Extending across the entirety of Northern Asia and much of Eastern Europe, Russia spans eleven time zones and incorporates a wide range of environments and landforms. From northwest to southeast, Russia shares land borders with Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, China, Mongolia and North Korea. It shares maritime borders with Japan by the Sea of Okhotsk and the U.S. state of Alaska across the Bering Strait. However, Russia recognises two more countries that border it, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, both of which are internationally recognized as parts of Georgia.

Alexander Hamilton High School (Los Angeles) public high school in Los Angeles

Alexander Hamilton High School is a public high school in the Castle Heights neighborhood within the Westside of Los Angeles, California, United States. It is in the Los Angeles Unified School District. It was established in 1931.

He was a VISTA volunteer (1966–1967) in Baltimore and San Francisco, and was an associate at a Los Angeles law firm, Levy, Van Bourg & Hackler (1967–72) specializing in labor relations. [5] [6] [7] [8] [9]

Baltimore Largest city in Maryland

Baltimore is the largest city in the state of Maryland within the United States. Baltimore was established by the Constitution of Maryland as an independent city in 1729. With a population of 611,648 in 2017, Baltimore is the largest such independent city in the United States. As of 2017, the population of the Baltimore metropolitan area was estimated to be just under 2.808 million, making it the 20th largest metropolitan area in the country. Baltimore is located about 40 miles (60 km) northeast of Washington, D.C., making it a principal city in the Washington-Baltimore combined statistical area (CSA), the fourth-largest CSA in the nation, with a calculated 2017 population of 9,764,315.

San Francisco Consolidated city-county in California, US

San Francisco, officially the City and County of San Francisco, is a city in, and the cultural, commercial, and financial center of, Northern California. San Francisco is the 13th-most populous city in the United States, and the fourth-most populous in California, with 884,363 residents as of 2017. It covers an area of about 46.89 square miles (121.4 km2), mostly at the north end of the San Francisco Peninsula in the San Francisco Bay Area, making it the second-most densely populated large US city, and the fifth-most densely populated U.S. county, behind only four of the five New York City boroughs. San Francisco is also part of the fifth-most populous primary statistical area in the United States, the San Jose–San Francisco–Oakland, CA Combined Statistical Area.

An associate attorney is a lawyer and an employee of a law firm who does not hold an ownership interest as a partner.

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.[ citation needed ]

Henry Waxman American politician

Henry Arnold Waxman is an American politician who served as the U.S. Representative for California's 33rd congressional district from 1975 until 2015. Waxman is a member of the Democratic Party. His district included much of the western part of the city of Los Angeles, as well as West Hollywood, Santa Monica and Beverly Hills, and was numbered the 24th district from 1975 to 1993, the 29th district from 1993 to 2003, and the 30th district from 2003 to 2013, changing due to redistricting after the 1990, 2000 and 2010 censuses. He now serves as Chairman at Waxman Strategies, a DC-based communications and lobbying firm, working on issues like health care, environment, energy, technology and telecommunications. In addition, he serves as a Regent Lecturer for University of California, Los Angeles, and as an advisor and lecturer at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Adlai Stevenson II mid-20th-century Governor of Illinois and Ambassador to the UN

Adlai Ewing Stevenson II was an American lawyer, politician, and diplomat.

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

Democratic National Convention series of presidential nominating conventions held every four years since 1832 by the United States Democratic Party

The Democratic National Convention (DNC) is a series of presidential nominating conventions held every four years since 1832 by the United States Democratic Party. They have been administered by the Democratic National Committee since the 1852 national convention. The primary goal of the Democratic National Convention is to nominate and confirm a candidate for president and vice president, adopt a comprehensive party platform and unify the party. Pledged delegates from all fifty U.S. states and from American dependencies and territories such as Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, and superdelegates which are unpledged delegates representing the Democratic establishment, attend the convention and cast their votes to choose the Party's presidential candidate. Like the Republican National Convention, the Democratic National Convention marks the formal end of the primary election period and the start of the general election season.

The 1968 Democratic National Convention was held August 26–29 at the International Amphitheatre in Chicago, Illinois. As President Lyndon B. Johnson had announced he would not seek reelection, the purpose of the convention was to select a new presidential nominee to run as the Democratic Party's candidate for the office. The keynote speaker was Senator Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii). Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey and Senator Edmund S. Muskie

1976 Democratic National Convention Political convention

The 1976 Democratic National Convention met at Madison Square Garden in New York City, from July 12 to July 15, 1976. The assembled United States Democratic Party delegates at the convention nominated former Governor Jimmy Carter of Georgia for President and Senator Walter Mondale of Minnesota for Vice President. John Glenn and Barbara Jordan gave the keynote addresses. Jordan's keynote address made her the first African-American woman to deliver the keynote address at a Democratic National Convention. It was listed as #5 in American Rhetoric's Top 100 Speeches of the 20th Century. The convention was the first in New York City since the 103-ballot 1924 convention.

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.

Hollywood Hills Neighborhood of Los Angeles in California, United States

The Hollywood Hills is a hillside neighborhood of the same name in the central region of the city of Los Angeles, California.

A campaign manager or campaign director is a paid or volunteer individual whose role is to coordinate a political campaign's operations such as fundraising, advertising, polling, getting out the vote, and other activities supporting the effort, directly.


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. [10] [11] [12] [13] [14]

Committee assignments

He also served as Chairman of the Assembly Democratic Caucus and on the Policy Research Management Committee of the Assembly. [11]

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%. [15] He won the general election with 60% of the vote. [16]

1984 through 2010

Berman was re-elected 14 times, never dropping below 61% of the vote, from 1984 through 2010. [17]

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. [18] 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." [19] 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. [20] The Republicans suffered some slippage; they had only 19 members in the delegation to the 110th Congress. [21]

From 2001 to 2006, Berman paid his brother Michael Berman's consulting firm Berman & D'Agostino $195,000 from campaign funds. [22] 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. [23]


Following redistricting, Berman decided to run in the newly redrawn California's 30th congressional district, facing fellow Democrat Brad Sherman. Sherman had the advantage because he previously represented over half of the district. [24] About 60% of voters of the new 30th district resided in Sherman's former district, while just 20% of voters resided in Berman's. [25] [26]

The race, unprecedented in pitting two very similar candidates of the same party against each other in the general election, was called a "slugfest." [27] 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. [28] [29] 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). [30]

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. [31] Under California's top-two system, Berman faced Sherman again in November. [32] 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 60.3%–39.7%. [33] [34]

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". [35]

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. [11]

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, against banning the desecration of the American flag, [10] against the Defense of Marriage Act, and against restrictions on abortion. [10]

However, Berman concurs with many on the right on a number of issues - particularly foreign policy and trade. Berman voted in support of the invasion of Iraq in both 1991 and 2003, as well as for the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, [21] [36] positions that have hurt his standing among many liberals in his district. [37] While he generally supports free trade - for instance, voting in favor of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) [38] and various trade agreements with specific countries -, he voted against the more recent Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). [21] He opposes withdrawing U.S. support for the World Trade Organization. In that same year, he also voted to phase out many 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. [39]

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". [40]

Berman is known for his protection of copyright interests, and his alliances with the entertainment industry; he was sometimes referred to as the "representative from Hollywood". [41] The major industry contributing to his election campaigns has been the entertainment industry. [42] 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). [43] 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". [44] [45]


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." [46] 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 Leader Gephardt's agreement with the administration on the terms of the resolution—talks that undercut the demands of other senior Democrats, including then Whip Pelosi and Chairman Biden. In June 2006, Berman voted for the Republican resolution to reject a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq." [35]


Berman is also a supporter of Israel, telling the Jewish newspaper, The Forward , after being appointed Chairman of the United States House Committee on Foreign Affairs, "Even before I was a Democrat, I was a Zionist." [41] He has sponsored the Anti-Boycott Act in the House, which prohibits American individuals and organizations from actively boycotting Israeli goods. [47]


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. [48]

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. [49] In 2005, Berman was part of the bi-partisan group in Congress that fought for immigration reform efforts. [50] That path to citizenship was also supported by President George W. Bush and Senator John McCain.


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. [51] [52] None of the firms listed above ranked among the top ten DOD contractors in 2008, [53] nor in the top twenty for 2009. [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. [21] [55] [56] "This is an honor I could have done without." [21]

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 to ban or restrict such travel. [57] [58]

Committee assignments

Caucus memberships

Career after Congress

In April 2013, Berman announced he would be joining the Washington, D.C. law firm Covington & Burling as a senior advisor in March 2013. [59] Berman also serves on the Board of Directors of the National Democratic Institute. [60] He serves on the board of The Washington Institute for Near East Policy [61] and is an advisory board member of the Counter Extremism Project. [62]

Personal life

Berman married Janis Gail Schwarz in 1979; they have two daughters, Brinley and Lindsey. [10] [21] [38] [11] [20] [63]

Memberships and awards

See also

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  21. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Barone, Michael; Richard E. Cohen (c. 2007). The Almanac of American Politics (2008 ed.). Washington, D.C.: National Journal, Inc. pp. 233–237. ISBN   978-0-89234-117-7.
  22. "Related recipients". USA Today . 2007-06-18.
  23. "Family Affair" (PDF). Citizens for Ethics. 2007-06-19. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-03-25.
  24. Alice Walton (June 4, 2012). "Berman vs. Sherman: 2 longtime Democratic leaders face off in the the Valley". Retrieved 2017-02-27.
  25. "Lines Redrawn, Longtime Allies Fight for a Seat". The New York Times.
  26. "Clone Wars". The Atlantic.
  27. "California Open Primary Leads to Democratic Slugfest". IVN. Retrieved 23 July 2012.
  28. February 26, 2017 (2011-11-21). "Berman Beats Sherman in Endorsement Race - News –". Retrieved 2017-02-27.
  29. Granfield, Patrick (2011-11-18). "22 Dems back Berman over Sherman". Politico. Retrieved 2017-02-27.
  30. February 26, 2017 (2011-11-21). "Berman Beats Sherman in Endorsement Race - News –". Retrieved 2017-02-27.
  31. "Rep. Sherman Tops Rep. Berman in Calif. Dem Primary". ABC News.
  32. Slosson, Mary (6 June 2012). "Democrats face Democrats in new California election system". Reuters. Retrieved 12 June 2012.
  33. "CA - District 30 Race - Nov 06, 2012". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2017-02-27.
  34. Michelle Quinn (November 7, 2012). "Brad Sherman defeats Howard Berman after bitter fight". Politico. Retrieved 2012-11-07.
  35. 1 2 "Rep. Howard Berman (D)". The National Journal Almanac. Retrieved 21 June 2012.
  36. "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 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 to establish a procedure for authorizing certain acquisitions of foreign intelligence, and for other purpoes (sic)
  37. 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 San Fernando Valley gathered in front of Congressman Howard Berman's home in Valley Village on Sat, May 26, 2007. Berman did NOT VOTE on the supplemental Iraq appropriations bill HR2206 that funds the war without timelines for withdrawal. Groups represented included Neighborhood Peace and Justice, Progressive Democrats of America, Progressive Caucus CDP, So. Cal. Grassroots, Valley Democrats United.
  38. 1 2 "Politics, Breaking News, US and World News – Howard Berman". The Washington Times. 2006-07-19. Retrieved 2008-09-19.[ dead link ]
  39. "No House Members Broke Rules in Ex-Rep. Foley's Congressional Page Scandal". Fox News. 2011-10-21. Archived from the original on 2011-02-09. Retrieved 2011-08-20.
  40. Daunt, Tina (18 May 2012). "Rep. Howard Berman Seeks Tax Credit Extensions for U.S. Film Production". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 12 June 2012.
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  44. "Hearing on: H.R. 6845, the "Fair Copyright in Research Works Act". United States House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary. 2008-09-11. Archived from the original on 2013-04-27.
  45. "Backlash against open access". Ars Technica. 2008-09-16.
  46. "The Iraq Vote: Howard Berman's Most Momentous Achievement Is One He's Come to Regret". LA Weekly.
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  64. "Farmworker Justice Award 2000". Farmworker Justice Fund. Archived from the original on June 8, 2003.
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
U.S. 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