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Dianne Feinstein

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Dianne Feinstein

Dianne Feinstein
United States Senator
from California
Assumed office
November 4, 1992
Serving with Barbara Boxer
Preceded by John Seymour
Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee
In office
January 3, 2009 – January 3, 2015
Preceded by Jay Rockefeller
Succeeded by Richard Burr
Chairman of the Senate Narcotics Caucus
In office
January 3, 2009 – January 3, 2015
Preceded by Joe Biden
Succeeded by Chuck Grassley
Chairman of the Senate Rules Committee
In office
January 3, 2007 – January 3, 2009
Preceded by Trent Lott
Succeeded by Chuck Schumer
38th Mayor of San Francisco
In office
December 4, 1978 – January 8, 1988
Preceded by George Moscone
Succeeded by Art Agnos
Personal details
Born Dianne Emiel Goldman
(1933-06-22) June 22, 1933
San Francisco, California, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Jack Berman (1956–1959)
Bertram Feinstein (1962–1978)
Richard Blum (1980–present)
Children Katherine
Alma mater Stanford University (B.A., 1955)
Religion Judaism
Website .gov.senate.feinsteinwww

Dianne Goldman Berman Feinstein, born Dianne Emiel Goldman[1] (; born June 22, 1933), is the senior United States Senator from California. A member of the Democratic Party, she has served in the Senate since 1992. She also served as 38th Mayor of San Francisco from 1978 to 1988.

Born in San Francisco, Feinstein graduated from Harvey Milk drew national attention to the city. Feinstein succeeded Moscone as mayor. During her tenure as San Francisco's first female mayor she led a revamp of the city's cable car system and oversaw the 1984 Democratic National Convention.

After a failed gubernatorial campaign in 1990, she won a 1992 special election to the U.S. Senate. Feinstein was first elected on the same ballot as her peer Barbara Boxer, and the two became California's first female U.S. Senators. Feinstein has been re-elected four times since then and in the 2012 election, she claimed the record for the most popular votes in any U.S. Senate election in history, having received 7.75 million votes.[2]

Feinstein was the author of the 1994 Federal Assault Weapons Ban which expired in 2004. In 2013 she introduced a new assault weapons bill, which failed to pass. Feinstein formerly chaired the Senate Rules Committee (2007–09) and has chaired the Select Committee on Intelligence since 2009. She is the only woman to have presided over a U.S. presidential inauguration.[3][4]

At the age of 82, Feinstein is the oldest currently serving United States Senator.


  • Early life 1
  • Personal life 2
  • Early political career 3
    • President of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors 3.1
    • Mayor of San Francisco 3.2
    • Gubernatorial election 3.3
  • U.S. Senate career 4
    • Elections 4.1
    • Approval ratings 4.2
    • Committees 4.3
    • Political positions and votes 4.4
      • Assault weapons ban 4.4.1
      • NSA surveillance programs 4.4.2
      • Medical marijuana 4.4.3
    • Presidential politics 4.5
    • Torture 4.6
  • Awards and honors 5
  • Offices held 6
  • Electoral history 7
  • See also 8
  • Notes 9
  • References 10
  • Further reading 11
  • External links 12

Early life

Feinstein was born Dianne Emiel Goldman[1] in San Francisco, to Betty (née Rosenburg), a former model, and Leon Goldman, a surgeon. Feinstein's paternal grandparents were Jewish immigrants from Poland, while her maternal grandparents, the Rosenburg family, from Saint Petersburg Russia, were of Jewish or German ancestry,[5][6] but were of the Russian Orthodox faith as was required for many Jews to reside in Saint Petersburg.[5][7]

Personal life

Feinstein graduated from Convent of the Sacred Heart High School in 1951 and from Stanford University in 1955 with a B.A. in History.

In 1956, she married Jack Berman (died 2002), a colleague in the San Francisco District Attorney's Office. Feinstein and Berman divorced three years later. Their daughter, Katherine Feinstein Mariano (b. 1957), has been the presiding judge of the San Francisco Superior Court for twelve years, through 2012.[8][9]

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

In 1980, Feinstein married Richard C. Blum, an investment banker. In 2003, Feinstein was ranked the fifth-wealthiest senator, with an estimated net worth of $26 million.[10] By 2005 her net worth had increased to between $43 million and $99 million.[11] Her 347-page financial-disclosure statement[12] – characterized by the San Francisco Chronicle as "nearly the size of a phone book" – draws clear lines between her assets and those of her husband, with many of her assets in blind trusts.[13]

Early political career

In 1961, Feinstein worked to end housing discrimination in San Francisco.[14] 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. Feinstein also served as a fellow at the Coro Foundation in San Francisco.

President of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors

In 1969, Feinstein was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. She remained on the Board for nine years.

During her tenure on the Board of Supervisors, she unsuccessfully ran for mayor of San Francisco twice, in 1971 against mayor John Barbagelata.

Because of her position, Feinstein became a target of the New World Liberation Front, which placed a bomb on her window sill that failed to explode, and which later shot out the windows of a beach house she owned.[15]

She was elected president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1978 with initial opposition from Quentin Kopp.

On November 27, 1978, San Francisco mayor [16]

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. Feinstein 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.

Feinstein speaks at a rally in San Francisco's Chinatown in the late 1970s. Husband Richard C. Blum is on the left

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 Moscone's term. She made no staffing changes to his team until she was elected in her own right in 1979. She was re-elected in 1983 and served a full second term.

One of the first challenges to face Feinstein as mayor was the state of the San Francisco cable car system. 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.[17] Feinstein also oversaw planning policies to increase the number of high rise buildings in San Francisco.[18]

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 1982.[19] 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 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.[20]

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.

Gubernatorial 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.[21]

U.S. Senate career


Official Senate photo from 2003
Feinstein in 2010, as she hosted an event at her home attended by 5 members of the U.S. Senate

On November 3, 1992, Feinstein won a special election to fill the Senate seat vacated a year earlier when Senator Pete Wilson resigned to become governor. 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 Boxer and Boxer had previous congressional service. Feinstein was re-elected in 1994, 2000, 2006, and 2012. In 2012, Feinstein claimed the record for the most popular votes in any U.S. Senate election in history, having received 7.75 million votes.[2] The record was previously held by her California colleague Barbara Boxer, who received 6.96 million votes in her 2004 re-election.

Approval ratings

Source Date Approve Disapprove Undecided
Survey USA January 17, 2011 43% 48% 10%
Public Policy Polling at the Wayback Machine (archived May 15, 2011) February 2, 2011 50% 39% 11%
The Field Poll February 2, 2011 48% 33% 19%
The Field Poll June 21, 2011 46% 31% 23%
The Field Poll September 16, 2011 41% 39% 20%
Public Policy Polling November 16, 2011 51% 38% 11%


Political positions and votes

Anti-war activist Todd Chretien protests outside of Senator Feinstein's office in San Francisco

Feinstein voted for the extension of the PATRIOT ACT and the FISA provisions.[22]

Feinstein was criticized in 2009 when she introduced a bill directing $25 billion to the FDIC the day after the agency awarded her husband's company a contract to sell foreclosed properties at compensation rates higher than the industry norms.[23] Feinstein and her husband have been tied to questionable dealings between the world's largest commercial real estate firm and the U.S. Postal Service.[24] Feinstein has also been accused of abusing her position to award her husband’s companies billions of dollars in military contracts.[25][26]

Feinstein cosponsored (along with Tom Coburn, an Oklahoman Republican) an amendment through the Senate to the Economic Development Revitalization Act of 2011 that eliminated the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit. The Senate passed the amendment on June 16, 2011. Introduced in 2004, the subsidy provided a 45-cent-per-gallon credit on pure ethanol and a 54-cent-per-gallon tariff on imported ethanol. These subsidies had resulted in an annual expenditure of $6 billion.[27][28]

On May 12, 2011, Feinstein cosponsored PIPA.[29] In January 2012, Feinstein met with representatives of technology companies, including Google and Facebook. According to a spokesperson, Feinstein "is doing all she can to ensure that the bill is balanced and protects the intellectual property concerns of the content community without unfairly burdening legitimate businesses such as Internet search engines."[30]

Assault weapons ban

Feinstein introduced the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, which became law in 1994 and expired in 2004.[31] In January 2013, about one month after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, Feinstein, along with Representative Carolyn McCarthy from New York, proposed a bill that would "ban the sale, transfer, manufacturing or importation of 150 specific firearms including semiautomatic rifles or pistols that can be used with a detachable or fixed ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds and have specific military-style features, including pistol grips, grenade launchers or rocket launchers." The bill would have exempted 900 models of guns used for sport and hunting.[31][32] Feinstein commented on the bill, saying, "The common thread in each of these shootings is the gunman used a semi-automatic assault weapon or large capacity ammunition magazines. Military assault weapons only have one purpose and in my opinion, it's for the military."[33] The bill failed on a Senate vote of 60 to 40.[34]

NSA surveillance programs

After the 2013 mass surveillance disclosures involving the National Security Agency (NSA), Feinstein took measures to continue the collection programs. Foreign Policy wrote that she had a "reputation as a staunch defender of NSA practices and the White House's refusal to stand by collection activities targeting foreign leaders."[35] In October 2013 she criticized the NSA for monitoring telephone calls of foreign leaders friendly to the US.[36] In November 2013 she promoted the Fisa Improvements Act bill which included a "backdoor search provision" that allows intelligence agencies to continue certain warrantless searches as long as they are logged and "available for review" to various agencies.[37]

In June 2013 Feinstein labeled Edward Snowden a traitor after his leaks went public. In October of that year she stated that she stood by those comments.[38]

While praising the NSA, Feinstein had accused the CIA of snooping and removing files through Congress members computers' stating, "The CIA did not ask the committee or its staff if the committee had access to the internal review or how we obtained it. Instead, the CIA just went and searched the committee's computer." [39] She claimed the "CIA's search may well have violated the separation of powers principles embodied in the United States Constitution." [40]

Medical marijuana

Feinstein voted in support of legislation to override a Department of Veterans Affairs' prohibition on allowing doctors to recommend cannabis to veterans in states that sanction its use as a medicine; the legislation was approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee on May 21, 2015. However, she was the only Democrat who joined a minority of Republicans in voting against a measure designed to prevent federal interference with states' medical marijuana laws; that legislation passed with a 21-9 vote on June 18, 2015.[41]

Presidential politics

The line for unclaimed tickets to the inauguration outside Feinstein's office

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, D.C., home to both Clinton and Obama to have a private one-on-one meeting.[42] Feinstein did not attend the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver because she had fallen and broken her ankle earlier in the month.[43]

She chaired the United States Congress Joint Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, and acted as mistress of ceremonies, introducing each participant at the 2009 presidential inauguration.[44]

Heading into the 2016 Presidential Election, Senator Feinstein was one of sixteen Democratic female senators to sign a letter, on October 20, 2013, endorsing Hillary Clinton as the Democrat nominee.[45]


Speaking on the Senate floor on December 9, 2014, Feinstein called the government's detention and interrogation program a “stain on our values and on our history,” following the release of 600 pages declassified out of a 6000-page report about CIA methods.[46]

Awards and honors

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

In 2002 Feinstein won the American Medical Association's Nathan Davis Award for "the Betterment of the Public Health."[47]

Offices held

Public offices
Office Type Location Elected Term began Term ended
Mayor Executive San Francisco N/A December 4, 1978 January 8, 1980
Mayor Executive San Francisco 1979 January 8, 1980 January 8, 1984
Mayor Executive San Francisco 1983 January 8, 1984 January 8, 1988
Senator Legislature Washington, D.C. 1992 November 4, 1992 January 3, 1995
Senator Legislature Washington, D.C. 1994 January 3, 1995 January 3, 2001
Senator Legislature Washington, D.C. 2000 January 3, 2001 January 3, 2007
Senator Legislature Washington, D.C. 2006 January 3, 2007 January 3, 2013
Senator Legislature Washington, D.C. 2012 January 3, 2013 Ongoing
United States Senate service
Dates Congress Chamber Majority President Committees Class
1993–1995 103rd U.S. Senate Democratic Bill Clinton Appropriations, Judiciary, Rules 1
1995–1997 104th U.S. Senate Republican Bill Clinton Foreign Relations, Judiciary, Rules 1
1997–1999 105th U.S. Senate Republican Bill Clinton Appropriations, Judiciary, Rules 1
1999–2001 106th U.S. Senate Republican Bill Clinton Appropriations, Judiciary, Rules 1
2001–2003 107th U.S. Senate Democratic George W. Bush Appropriations, Judiciary, Energy, Rules, Intelligence 1
2003–2005 108th U.S. Senate Republican George W. Bush Appropriations, Judiciary, Energy, Rules, Intelligence 1
2005–2007 109th U.S. Senate Republican George W. Bush Appropriations, Judiciary, Energy, Rules, Intelligence 1
2007–2009 110th U.S. Senate Democratic George W. Bush Appropriations, Judiciary, Rules (chair), Intelligence 1
2009–2011 111th U.S. Senate Democratic Barack Obama Appropriations, Judiciary, Rules, Intelligence (chair) 1
2011–2013 112th U.S. Senate Democratic Barack Obama Appropriations, Judiciary, Rules, Intelligence (chair) 1
2013–2015 113th U.S. Senate Democratic Barack Obama Appropriations, Judiciary, Rules, Intelligence (chair) 1
2015–current 114th U.S. Senate Republican Barack Obama Appropriations, Judiciary, Rules, Intelligence (vice-chair) 1

Electoral history

California gubernatorial election, 1990
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Pete Wilson 3,791,904 49.2
Democratic Dianne Feinstein 3,525,197 45.8
Libertarian Dennis Thompson 145,628 1.9
American Independent Jerome McCready 139,661 1.8
Peace and Freedom Maria Elizabeth Munoz 96,842 1.3
Total votes 7,699,232
Majority 266,707 3.4
Republican hold Swing
United States Senate special election in California, 1992
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Dianne Feinstein 5,853,651 54.3
Republican John F. Seymour (incumbent) 4,093,501 38.0
Peace and Freedom Gerald Horne 305,697 2.8
American Independent Paul Meeuwenberg 281,973 2.6
Libertarian Richard Benjamin Boddie 247,799 2.3
Total votes 10,782,621
Majority 1,760,050 16.3
Democratic gain from Republican Swing
United States Senate election in California, 1994
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Dianne Feinstein (incumbent) 3,979,152 46.7 −7.6
Republican Michael Huffington 3,817,025 44.8 +6.8
Peace and Freedom Elizabeth Cervantes Barron 255,301 3.0 +0.2
Libertarian Richard Benjamin Boddie 179,100 2.1 −0.6
American Independent Paul Meeuwenberg 142,771 1.7 −0.9
Green Barbara Blong 140,567 1.7 +1.7
Total votes 8,513,916
Majority 162,127 1.9 −14.4
Democratic hold Swing −14.4
United States Senate election in California, 2000
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Dianne Feinstein (incumbent) 5,932,522 55.8 +9.1
Republican Tom Campbell 3,886,853 36.6 −8.2
Green Medea Susan Benjamin 326,828 3.1 +1.4
Libertarian Gail Lightfoot 187,718 1.8 −0.3
American Independent Dianne Beall Templin 134,598 1.3 −0.4
Reform Jose Luis Olivares Camahort 96,552 0.9 +0.9
Natural Law Brian M. Rees 58,537 0.5 +0.5
Total votes 10,623,608
Majority 2,045,669 19.2 +17.3
Democratic hold Swing +17.3
United States Senate election in California, 2006
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Dianne Feinstein (incumbent) 5,076,289 59.4 +3.6
Republican Dick Mountjoy 2,990,822 35.0 −1.6
Green Todd Chretien 147,074 1.7 −1.4
Libertarian Michael S. Metti 133,851 1.6 −0.2
Peace and Freedom Marsha Feinland 117,764 1.4 +1.4
American Independent Don J. Grundmann 75,350 0.9 −0.4
Total votes 8,541,150
Majority 2,085,467 24.4 +5.2
Democratic hold Swing +5.2
United States Senate election in California, 2012
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Dianne Feinstein (incumbent) 7,864,624 62.5 +3.1
Republican Elizabeth Emken 4,713,887 37.5 +2.5
Majority 3,150,737 25 +.6
Democratic hold Swing +.6

See also


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b California - Google Books
  6. ^ The Jews of Capitol Hill: A Compendium of Jewish Congressional Members - Kurt F. Stone - Google Books
  7. ^ (The Pale of Settlement policy restricted Jews to living in specifically designated parts of Czarist Russia. They were excluded from living in the main Russian cities.)
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^ Fight over ethanol brewing in D.C. - News - McPhersonSentinel - McPherson, KS - McPherson, KS
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^ a b
  32. ^
  33. ^
  34. ^
  35. ^ "Dianne Feinstein Is Still a Friend of the NSA After All." Foreign Policy. November 1, 2013. Retrieved on November 18, 2013.
  36. ^ Lewis, Paul and Spencer Ackerman. "NSA: Dianne Feinstein breaks ranks to oppose US spying on allies." The Guardian. October 28, 2013. Retrieved on November 18, 2013.
  37. ^ Ackerman, Spencer. "Feinstein promotes bill to strengthen NSA's hand on warrantless searches." The Guardian. Friday November 15, 2013. Retrieved on November 18, 2013.
  38. ^ Herb, Jeremy. "Feinstein stands by labeling Snowden a traitor." The Hill. October 29, 2013. Retrieved on November 19, 2013.
  39. ^
  40. ^
  41. ^ Egelko, Bob (14 June 2015) "Feinstein very slow to ease opposition to medical marijuana," San Francisco Chronicle.
  42. ^
  43. ^
  44. ^
  45. ^
  46. ^
  47. ^


  • Roberts, Jerry (1994). Dianne Feinstein: Never Let Them See You Cry, Harpercollins. ISBN 0-06-258508-8
  • Talbot, David (2012). Season of the Witch: Enchantment, Terror and Deliverance in the City of Love, New York: Simon and Schuster. 480 p. ISBN 978-1-4391-0821-5.
  • Weiss, Mike (2010). Double Play: The Hidden Passions Behind the Double Assassination of George Moscone and Harvey Milk, Vince Emery Productions. ISBN 978-0-9825650-5-6

Further reading

  • Biography at Jewish Women Encyclopedia

External links

  • Op-ed archives at Project Syndicate
  • Diane Feinstein's Opening Remarks at the 2009 Presidential Inauguration at, video, audio and text
Political offices
Preceded by
George Moscone
Mayor of San Francisco
Succeeded by
Art Agnos
Party political offices
Preceded by
Tom Bradley
Democratic nominee for Governor of California
Succeeded by
Kathleen Brown
Preceded by
Leo McCarthy
Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from California
(Class 3)

1992, 1994, 2000, 2006, 2012
Most recent
United States Senate
Preceded by
John Seymour
U.S. Senator (Class 1) from California
Served alongside: Alan Cranston, Barbara Boxer
Preceded by
Vern Ehlers
Chairman of the Joint Library Committee
Succeeded by
Bob Brady
Preceded by
Trent Lott
Chairman of the Senate Rules Committee
Succeeded by
Chuck Schumer
Chairman of the Joint Inaugural Ceremonies Committee
Preceded by
Jay Rockefeller
Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee
Succeeded by
Richard Burr
Preceded by
Joe Biden
Chairman of the Senate Narcotics Caucus
Succeeded by
Chuck Grassley
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Harry Reid
United States Senators by seniority
Succeeded by
Barbara Boxer
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