Charles Burson

Charles Burson
Chief of Staff to the Vice President of the United States
In office
August 3, 1999  January 20, 2001
Vice President Al Gore
Preceded by Ronald Klain
Succeeded by I. Lewis Libby
Attorney General of Tennessee
In office
Preceded by W.J. Michael Cody
Succeeded by John Knox Walkup
Personal details
Born 1944 (age 7172)
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Bunny Burson
Children Clare Burson, Kate Burson
Alma mater University of Michigan (B.A.)
Cambridge University (M.A.)
Harvard Law School (J.D.)
Profession Attorney
Religion Judaism

Charles Wainman Burson was a legal counsel and Chief of Staff to the Vice President of the United States under Al Gore. He assumed the position of legal counsel from Kumiki Gibson in February 1997 after serving almost a decade as Tennessee Attorney General. In 1999 Charles Burson became Gore's Chief of Staff, replacing Ron Klain who resigned in August of that year.

Burson is the son of Josie Burson and Leo Burson. He grew up in Shelby County, Tennessee,[1] where he graduated from Central High School in Memphis in 1962. Burson received his Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of Michigan, his Master of Arts from the University of Cambridge, and his J.D. from Harvard Law School.

Burson was a friend of Gore for over three decades at the time of his appointment as Chief of Staff to the Vice President of the United States.[2] Charles Burson first became friends with the future Vice President in 1968 during the time Gore was studying Tennessee history at Memphis State University.[3] In 1984 he was the chairman of Gore's senatorial campaign.[3] This continued a family tradition of involvement with the Gores. Burson's parents were active in Tennessee Democratic politics, and his mother had held a position in Albert Gore Sr.'s senatorial campaign in 1958.[4]

Before joining the White House, Charles Burson held a variety of public and private roles. From 1970 until 1988, he worked in private practice as a lawyer. He briefly flirted with active politics in the 1978 when he lost a race to Republican Ed Williams[1] for the East Memphis seat in the Tennessee House of Representatives. In 1988 he was appointed the Tennessee Attorney General. In this capacity, Burson served on a number of public legal bodies. He was a member of the Tennessee Board of Law Examiners, of the Tennessee Code Commission and of the Commission on the Future of the Judicial System. Burson also represented the state several times before the Supreme Court of the United States. One notable case he argued was Burson v. Freeman, which established a state's ability to regulate election advertising on voting day.

After his time in the White House, Burson served as Executive Vice President and General Counsel to the global agribusiness corporation, Monsanto.[5] Burson is married to Bunny Burson and has two daughters, Clare[6] and Kate. He presently resides in St. Louis, Missouri, teaches at the Washington University School of Law and is of counsel to the St. Louis law firm Bryan Cave.


  1. 1 2 "Mr. Controlling Legal Authority" The Memphis Flyer issue 435
  2. "Gore's chief of staff resigns Archived March 20, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.." 1999.
  3. 1 2 You Know Me, Al Memphis Magazine September 2000 Archived January 11, 2005, at the Wayback Machine.
  4. Seniors 2000 Memphis Magazine June 2000 Archived January 2, 2005, at the Wayback Machine.
  5. "Charles W. Burson Faculty Profile" Retrieved on September 7, 2011.
  6. "Singer With StL Ties Explores Grandparents' Holocaust Stories Through Song". Retrieved 27 June 2011.

External links

Legal offices
Preceded by
W.J. Michael Cody
Attorney General of Tennessee
Succeeded by
John Knox Walkup
Preceded by
Kumiki Gibson
Legal Counsel to the Vice President of the United States
Succeeded by
Elizabeth Brown
Political offices
Preceded by
Ron Klain
Chief of Staff to the Vice President of the United States
Succeeded by
Lewis Libby
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