Director of Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control: Who Is Jacob Appelsmith?

Thursday, June 14, 2012
Jacob Appelsmith

A senior adviser to Governor Jerry Brown, Jacob Appelsmith was appointed Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control director in January 2011.

Appelsmith graduated from Middlebury College in Vermont in 1985 before getting a law degree from the University of California Boalt Hall School of Law in 1988. While at Boalt, he worked as a student clerk to California Supreme Court Justice Allen Broussard. Appelsmith was an Associate Editor of the Industrial Relations Law Journal, and clerked at law firms in New York and Portland, Maine. He began his career as a lawyer with Pillsbury, Madison & Sutro in San Francisco, where he worked for six years as a commercial litigator. 

At Pillsbury, Appelsmith did pro-bono work for the Volunteer Legal Services Program at the Bar Association of San Francisco. At VLSP, Appelsmith taught classes on how to prosecute hate-crime cases after he successfully brought a lawsuit while at Pillsbury based on a hate-crime statute on behalf of an HIV-positive man.

Appelsmith joined the Attorney General’s office in 1994 and rose to head the state Department of Justice’s employment law section. In 2008, Appelsmith was appointed special assistant to the attorney general and then head of the California Bureau of Gambling Control, which oversees the state’s 60 tribal casinos and 90 card rooms.

Although Appelsmith was appointed by Governor Brown to the $150,000 a year post on January 28, 2011, he was not confirmed by the Senate until August amid concerns about his workload. He is also a  senior adviser to Brown, under whom Appelsmith served at the Office of the Attorney General. Appelsmith’s responsibilities include negotiating gambling compacts between the state and Native American tribes.

-Ken Broder


To Learn More:

Executive Staff (ABC website)

Appelsmith Pursues Social Justice at Attorney General's Office (by Sharon McWilliams, Sacramento County Bar Association)

Governor Brown Appoints Jacob Appelsmith as Director of the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (pdf)

Senators Fear Jerry Brown Appointee is Too Busy (by Torey Van Oot, Sacramento Bee)

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