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The life and career of Tony West, the Uber executive married to Kamala Harris' sister, and who may be in the running for a role in the Biden administration

The life and career of Tony West, the Uber executive married to Kamala Harris' sister, and who may be in the running for a role in the Biden administration
  • Tony West, Uber's chief legal office, is reportedly in play for the role of Attorney General in the Biden administration, according to Insider.
  • If appointed, he'd be the highest-profile Silicon Valley exec to play a key role in national politics.
  • West served in the Justice Department during both the Clinton and Obama administrations before leaving government to work at PepsiCo.
  • He joined Uber in 2017 to help clean up several legal issues at the company following a string of scandals.
  • West has been married to Maya Harris, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris' younger sister and former campaign chairwoman, since 1998.

During his nearly 30-year career, Tony West has deftly navigated the halls of government, big business, and Silicon Valley.

As Uber's chief legal office, West, 55, has spent the last three years cleaning up messy legal snafus after the Travis Kalanick era and ahead of the company's highly anticipated IPO. Prior to that, West headed up PepsiCo's legal department after serving as the third-highest-ranking official in the Justice Department during the Obama administration.

West has forged his own ties to Democratic politics — he chaired the California fundraising committee for Obama's presidential bid — but he's also connected to the party in another key way: He's married to Maya Harris, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris' younger sister and former campaign chairwoman.

Now, West is reportedly being considered for the role of Attorney General within the incoming Biden administration. If West is appointed, it would be the most direct line yet from Washington to Silicon Valley and back again.

Read more: Joe Biden's Cabinet-in-waiting: Meet the people in play for a new administration, who could fill key roles like secretaries of state and defense, COVID czar, and chief of staff

Here's how West got his start and became a key figure in both the political sphere and the tech world.

Tony West was raised in San Jose, California. His mother was a teacher and his father worked at IBM and was involved in local politics. West has two younger sisters, Pamela and Patricia.

Tony West was raised in San Jose, California. His mother was a teacher and his father worked at IBM and was involved in local politics. West has two younger sisters, Pamela and Patricia.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Source: Stanford Lawyer, United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary

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West attended Harvard University and Stanford Law School, where he was president of the "Stanford Law Review," only the third African-American person to hold the position.

West attended Harvard University and Stanford Law School, where he was president of the "Stanford Law Review," only the third African-American person to hold the position.
Stanford University's campus. alacatr/Getty Images
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In 1993, one year after graduating from law school, West joined the Justice Department under the Clinton administration. He served as a special assistant to the deputy attorney general before becoming an assistant US attorney in the Northern District of California. By 1999, West was 
focusing on high-tech crime as California's special assistant 
attorney general.

In 1993, one year after graduating from law school, West joined the Justice Department under the Clinton administration. He served as a special assistant to the deputy attorney general before becoming an assistant US attorney in the Northern District of California. By 1999, West was 
focusing on high-tech crime as California's special assistant 
attorney general.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Source: Washington Post, Stanford Lawyer

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West had been interested in working in government since before law school. "I didn't go to law school wanting to be a lawyer," he told the Washington Post in 2012. "I was always more interested in public service. What I discovered is you could practice law and be a public servant."

West had been interested in working in government since before law school. "I didn't go to law school wanting to be a lawyer," he told the Washington Post in 2012. "I was always more interested in public service. What I discovered is you could practice law and be a public servant."
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Source: Washington Post

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West has run for political office twice: first in 1998 when he ran for San Jose City Council, and again in 2000 when he ran for California State Assembly. He lost both times.

West has run for political office twice: first in 1998 when he ran for San Jose City Council, and again in 2000 when he ran for California State Assembly. He lost both times.
Mark Thiessen/AP

Source: Washington Post

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In 2001, West left California government to become a litigation partner at Morrison & Foerster in San Francisco. He represented a range of clients, including John Walker Lindh, an American man who was convicted of working with the Taliban in Afghanistan.

In 2001, West left California government to become a litigation partner at Morrison & Foerster in San Francisco. He represented a range of clients, including John Walker Lindh, an American man who was convicted of working with the Taliban in Afghanistan.
From left: Tony West and James Brosnahan, attorneys of John Walker Lindh, along with Lindh's father, Frank Lindh. Hyungwon Kang/Reuters
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West was also on the legal team for Marcus Williams, a wide receiver for the Oakland Raiders who sued his teammate, Bill Romanowski, in 2003 after Romanowski broke a bone in his eye socket during practice.

West was also on the legal team for Marcus Williams, a wide receiver for the Oakland Raiders who sued his teammate, Bill Romanowski, in 2003 after Romanowski broke a bone in his eye socket during practice.
Former Oakland Raiders receiver Marcus Williams, center, and attorneys James Brosnahan, left, and Tony West, right. MediaNews Group/Bay Area News via Getty Images
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In 2004, West met then-Sen. Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention. When Obama decided to seek the Democratic presidential nomination, West was an early supporter, chairing the California fundraising committee and helping to raise $65 million for Obama's campaign.

In 2004, West met then-Sen. Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention. When Obama decided to seek the Democratic presidential nomination, West was an early supporter, chairing the California fundraising committee and helping to raise $65 million for Obama's campaign.
Andy Nelson/The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images

Source: Stanford Lawyer, Washington Post

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West remained at Morrison & Foerster until January 2009, when he rejoined the Justice Department as assistant attorney general of the civil division under Obama's administration.

West remained at Morrison & Foerster until January 2009, when he rejoined the Justice Department as assistant attorney general of the civil division under Obama's administration.
Then-US Attorney General Eric Holder, left, and Tony West. Yuri Gripas/Reuters
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At the Justice Department, West advocated against the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, which allowed states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriage. He also worked to reduce the number of detainees at the Guantanamo Bay military prison, according to The New York Times.

At the Justice Department, West advocated against the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, which allowed states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriage. He also worked to reduce the number of detainees at the Guantanamo Bay military prison, according to The New York Times.
Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images

Source: The New York Times

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In 2012, West was confirmed as associate attorney general, the third-ranking official at the Justice Department. During his appointment, he pursued almost $37 billion in fines against financial institutions that played a role in the financial crisis. Attorney General Eric Holder presented him with the department's highest honor when he left in 2014.

In 2012, West was confirmed as associate attorney general, the third-ranking official at the Justice Department. During his appointment, he pursued almost $37 billion in fines against financial institutions that played a role in the financial crisis. Attorney General Eric Holder presented him with the department's highest honor when he left in 2014.
Then-US Attorney General Eric Holder, left, and Tony West. Susan Walsh/AP

Source: Uber

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West joined PepsiCo as general counsel and vice president of government affairs in 2014. At PepsiCo, West was a proponent of diversity in recruitment and hiring, as well as in the outside counsel hired to work with the company, according to the Washington Post.

West joined PepsiCo as general counsel and vice president of government affairs in 2014. At PepsiCo, West was a proponent of diversity in recruitment and hiring, as well as in the outside counsel hired to work with the company, according to the Washington Post.
Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

Source: Washington Post

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West stayed at PepsiCo until 2017 when he was recruited by Dara Khosrowshahi, who had recently been named CEO of Uber. His first day at the company, West was tasked with alerting state attorneys general about a data breach Uber had experienced a year earlier.

West stayed at PepsiCo until 2017 when he was recruited by Dara Khosrowshahi, who had recently been named CEO of Uber. His first day at the company, West was tasked with alerting state attorneys general about a data breach Uber had experienced a year earlier.
West, center, and Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi. Richard Drew/AP

Source: Inc

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"I knew there would be big challenges," West said at a GeekWire summit in 2018. "I knew there would be days when I opened up a closet and a skeleton would fall out."

"I knew there would be big challenges," West said at a GeekWire summit in 2018. "I knew there would be days when I opened up a closet and a skeleton would fall out."
Uber Chairman Ronald Sugar, left, and Tony West in 2019. Brendan McDermid/Reuters

Source: Inc

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West also had to navigate allegations that Uber had stolen trade secrets from self-driving car company Waymo, a subsidiary of Google's parent company. He helped facilitate a settlement that avoided Uber having to pay $1 billion in damages.

West also had to navigate allegations that Uber had stolen trade secrets from self-driving car company Waymo, a subsidiary of Google's parent company. He helped facilitate a settlement that avoided Uber having to pay $1 billion in damages.
Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images for Uber Elevate

Source: The New York Times

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West has been married to Maya Harris since 1998. West and Harris, the younger sister of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, met at law school when Harris' daughter, Meena, challenged West to a game of hide-and-seek. Harris and West were friends through law school and didn't start dating until after graduation, when he lived in Washington, DC, and she lived in the Bay Area.

A post shared by Maya Harris (@mayaharris_)

Source: Stanford Lawyer

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When Kamala Harris was elected to the Senate in 2016, West co-led her transition team. Maya Harris is also involved in politics and has been an instrumental figure in her sister's career: She initially served as a senior advisor to Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign and later worked as campaign chairwoman for her sister's presidential run.

When Kamala Harris was elected to the Senate in 2016, West co-led her transition team. Maya Harris is also involved in politics and has been an instrumental figure in her sister's career: She initially served as a senior advisor to Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign and later worked as campaign chairwoman for her sister's presidential run.
Tony West and Maya Harris. Jemal Countess/Getty Images for The Women's Media Center
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Now that the Biden administration is poised to enter the White House in January, Washington insiders have been speculating about who will be appointed to key administration positions — and West is reportedly in the running for Attorney General, according to Insider.

Now that the Biden administration is poised to enter the White House in January, Washington insiders have been speculating about who will be appointed to key administration positions — and West is reportedly in the running for Attorney General, according to Insider.
Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images for Uber Elevate

Source: Business Insider

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It's unclear if West would be interested in another government role, however. In a 2019 interview with The New York Times, he said: "It would depend on a lot of things, not the least of which is: What would I be going back for?"

It's unclear if West would be interested in another government role, however. In a 2019 interview with The New York Times, he said: "It would depend on a lot of things, not the least of which is: What would I be going back for?"
Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for NAACP LDF

Source: The New York Times

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