John Chiang (California politician)

For other people named John Chiang, see John Chiang (disambiguation).
John Chiang
33rd Treasurer of California
Assumed office
January 5, 2015
Governor Jerry Brown
Preceded by Bill Lockyer
31st Controller of California
In office
January 8, 2007  January 5, 2015
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
Jerry Brown
Preceded by Steve Westly
Succeeded by Betty Yee
Member of the California State Board of Equalization
from the 4th district
In office
January 3, 1997  January 3, 2007
Preceded by Brad Sherman
Succeeded by Judy Chu
Personal details
Born (1962-07-31) July 31, 1962
New York City, New York, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Alma mater University of South Florida
Georgetown University
Religion Roman Catholicism[1]
John Chiang
Traditional Chinese 江俊輝
Simplified Chinese 江俊辉
Hanyu Pinyin Jiāng Jùnhuī

John Chiang (Chinese: 江俊輝; born July 31, 1962) is an American politician and member of the Democratic Party who has served as the California State Treasurer since January 5, 2015. He previously served as California State Controller from 2007 to 2015 and on the California Board of Equalization from 1997 to 2007.

On May 17, 2016, Chiang announced his campaign for Governor of California in the 2018 race.[2]

Background and early career

Chiang is the son of immigrants from Taiwan. Chiang's father, Chiang Mu-dong (江牧東), a Taipei native, relocated to the United States in 1950 to pursue graduate studies at Cleveland State University, after graduating with a degree in chemical engineering from National Taiwan University.[3] Chiang's mother, Shen Yin-hsiang (沈吟香), was a Tainan native, who studied abroad in Japan before immigrating to the United States to pursue further studies.[3] Chiang's parents met at the University of Notre Dame, and soon married.[4]

Chiang was born in New York City and grew up in Chicago.[5] Chiang attended Carl Sandburg High School where he served as student body vice-president alongside student body president Dave Jones. Lifelong friends, Chiang and Jones would run again together in 2010 on the California Democratic slate, with Chiang winning reelection as state controller and Jones being elected California Insurance Commissioner. He graduated with honors with a degree in finance from the University of South Florida and has a law degree from Georgetown University Law Center. Chiang's decision to pursue law was influenced by his maternal grandfather, Shen Rong (沈榮), who was a prominent lawyer in Tainan.[4] He moved to Los Angeles in 1987 where he got involved with the Democratic Party of the San Fernando Valley and the West LA Democratic Club.

Chiang began his career as a tax law specialist for the IRS. He worked as an attorney for then-California State Controller Gray Davis, and also worked on the staff of California Senator Barbara Boxer. He was appointed to the California Board of Equalization in 1997 after incumbent Brad Sherman resigned after being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. Chiang was then elected to the office in 1998 and elected to a second four-year term in 2002. He was Chair and represented the Fourth District, primarily serving southern Los Angeles County.

California State Controller

Chiang ran for California State Controller in 2006. He won the Democratic primary with 53%, defeating State Senator Joe Dunn. In the general election, he defeated Republican State Assemblyman Tony Strickland by over 870,000 votes. Chiang was inaugurated on January 8, 2007.[6]

In May 2007, Chiang released a report[7] that found that the state of California "would have to pay an additional $2.2 billion annually" over 30 years in order to pay for health benefits for all currently retired state employees and current state employees who will be retiring.[8] Chiang's actions were praised as having "gotten a needed discussion reignited".[9]

In June 2007, a U.S. District Judge banned the State Controller's office from seizing unclaimed property because the State was not giving "fair notice to the owner and public".[10] Because a ban could cause the State to lose $300 million per year in revenue, Chiang took steps to improve the notification of people whose assets were about to be seized, including sending them notices, and to improve the ability of people to recover their assets once seized.[11] By October 2007, the U.S. District Judge found that Chiang's measures "satisfie[d] constitutional due process" and lifted his ban.[10]

In July 2008, former Governor of California Schwarzenegger was reported to be planning to "slash the pay of more than 200,000 state workers to the federal minimum of $6.55 per hour," among other measures, due to a lack of an approved state budget.[12] In response, Chiang characterized Schwarzenegger's idea as "a poorly devised strategy to put pressure on the Legislature to enact a budget" and stated that he would continue to pay state workers their full salaries.[12] Chiang claimed that he had "both constitutional and statutory authority" to continue payments and that Schwarzenegger was trying to make Chiang "do something that's improper and illegal".[13] He received support from the Democratic leadership in the state Senate and Assembly.[14] When Schwarzenegger issued a formal executive order, Chiang sent a formal letter to Schwarzenegger "reiterating his position".[15][16] At a rally of state workers in Los Angeles, Chiang called them "innocent victims of a political struggle".[17][18]

Chiang ran for a second term in 2010. He was unopposed in the Democratic primary and faced a rematch with Strickland in the general election, who had been elected to the State Senate in the intervening period. Chiang defeated him again, by over 1.83 million votes.

California State Treasurer

Chiang was elected California State Treasurer in 2014, defeating Republican businessman Greg Conlon by nearly 1,250,000 votes (58.8% to 41.2%).[19] He was sworn into office by California Supreme Court Associate Justice Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar on January 4, 2015, succeeding term-limited Democratic incumbent Bill Lockyer.[20]

2018 gubernatorial bid

On May 17, 2016 Chiang announced his intentions to run for Governor of California in 2018.[2]

Personal life

Chiang has two younger brothers, Roger and Bob, and one sister, Joyce, who was murdered in 1999.[21]

Electoral history

California State Board of Equalization 4th District Democratic Primary Election, 1998
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic John Chiang (inc.) 217,715 34.57
Democratic Jose Fernandez 150,020 23.82
Democratic Tyrone Vahedi 92,336 14.66
Democratic Craig "Tax Freeze" Freis 65,256 10.36
Democratic Gregorio Alejandro Armanta 53,130 8.44
Democratic Gil Eisner 51,369 8.16
California State Board of Equalization 4th District Election, 1998
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic John Chiang (inc.) 881,724 60.23
Republican Joe Adams, Jr. 437,171 29.86
Green Glenn Trujillo Bailey 58,480 3.99
Peace and Freedom Shirley Rachel Isaacson 45,104 3.08
Libertarian William Jennings 41,514 2.84
California State Board of Equalization 4th District Election, 2002
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic John Chiang (inc.) 863,369 63.6
Republican Glen Forsch 410,312 30.2
Libertarian Kenneth Weissman 85,434 6.2
California State Controller Democratic Primary Election, 2006
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic John Chiang 1,157,760 53.3
Democratic Joe Dunn 1,014,451 46.7
California State Controller Election, 2006
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic John Chiang 4,232,313 50.7
Republican Tony Strickland 3,360,611 40.2
Green Laura Wells 260,047 3.2
Peace and Freedom Elizabeth Cervantes Barron 212,383 2.5
Libertarian Donna Tello 188,934 2.2
American Independent Warren Mark Campbell 106,761 1.2
California State Controller Election, 2010
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic John Chiang (inc.) 5,325,357 55.2
Republican Tony Strickland 3,487,014 36.1
Libertarian Andrew "Andy" Favor 292,441 3.1
Peace and Freedom Karen Martinez 209,638 2.2
Green Ross Frankel 191,282 1.9
American Independent Lawrence Beliz 154,145 1.5
California State Treasurer Primary Election, 2014
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic John Chiang 2,250,098 55.0
Republican Greg Conlon 1,571,532 38.4
Green Ellen Brown 270,388 6.6
California State Treasurer Election, 2014
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic John Chiang 4,176,793 58.8
Republican Greg Conlon 2,925,895 41.2


  1. "Chiang's fight is for underdog". Sacramento Bee. August 6, 2010. Retrieved August 2, 2016.
  2. 1 2 "John Chiang opens bid for California Governor". Sacramento Bee. May 17, 2016. Retrieved August 2, 2016.
  3. 1 2 "台裔江俊輝從政選州長 受律師外公影響". 中央社新聞 (in Chinese). 中央通訊社. 25 May 2016. Retrieved 2016-10-12.
  4. 1 2 "台美人第二代風雲人物: 江俊輝(John Chiang)" (PDF). Taiwanese American Historical Society.
  5. "US politician inspired by Taiwanese relative". Taipei Times. May 30, 2016. Retrieved May 30, 2016.
  6. Yi, Matthew. Inaugurations - state offices - ceremonies, parties as state officials take oath of office. San Francisco Chronicle, January 6, 2007.
  7. Gabriel, Roeder, Smith & Company. Other postemployment benefits sponsored by the State of California as of July 1, 2007. Accessed 1 Aug 2008.
  8. Chan, Gilbert. Retiree health cost disclosed. Sacramento Bee, May 8, 2007. Accessed 1 Aug 2008.
  9. State controller steps forward on retiree costs. John Chiang draws attention to costs of health care benefits for retired government workers. Orange County Register, May 11, 2007. Accessed 1 Aug 2008.
  10. 1 2 Walsh, Denny. Judge lifts ban on seizing assets - A group challenging the state's taking of unclaimed property plans to appeal. Sacramento Bee, October 20, 2007.
  11. Chorneau, Tom, and Haley Davies. State will notify thousands before taking their assets. San Francisco Chronicle, August 24, 2007. Accessed 1 Aug 2008.
  12. 1 2 Wildermuth, John, and Matthew Yi. Governor plans to slash state workers' pay. San Francisco Chronicle, July 24, 2008. Accessed 1 Aug 2008.
  13. Yi, Matthew. Controller says he won't cut workers' wages. San Francisco Chronicle, July 25, 2008. Accessed 1 Aug 2008.
  14. Mendel, Ed. Governor, controller clash on pay-cut plan. San Diego Union-Tribune, July 26, 2008. Accessed 1 Aug 2008.
  15. Yi, Matthew. Governor orders layoffs, heavy pay cuts. San Francisco Chronicle, July 31, 2008. Accessed 1 Aug 2008.
  16. Letter from John Chiang to Arnold Schwarzenegger. July 31, 2008. Accessed 1 Aug 2008.
  17. Rothfeld, Michael. Schwarzenegger makes layoffs, orders pay cuts for California state workers. Los Angeles Times, August 1, 2008. Accessed 1 Aug 2008.
  18. Statement of Vote, November 4, 2015, General Election. California Secretary of State Debra Bowen. 2014. p. 6.
  19. White, Jeremy (January 4, 2015). "AM Alert: Jerry Brown swearing-in, State of State launch new year of California politics". The Sacramento Bee Capitol Alert. Retrieved May 12, 2015.
  20. Dean, Eddie (July 30, 1999). "The Murder Victim Next Door". Washington City Paper. Retrieved April 15, 2013.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to John Chiang.
Political offices
Preceded by
Brad Sherman
Member of the California State Board of Equalization
from the 4th district

Succeeded by
Judy Chu
Preceded by
Steve Westly
Controller of California
Succeeded by
Betty Yee
Preceded by
Bill Lockyer
Treasurer of California
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