Pete Wilson has dedicated more than 30 years to serving the citizens of California, including as Governor of California for two terms (1991 to 1999), eight years as a U.S. senator (1983 to 1991), eleven years as mayor of San Diego (1971 to 1983) and five years as a California state assemblyman (1967 to 1971). He is now a principal in Bingham Consulting Group, based in the firm’s Los Angeles office. He is also of counsel to Bingham McCutchen.
As Governor, he is credited with leading California from the depths of recession to prosperous economic recovery. Insisting on strict budget discipline and rehabilitation of the state’s then-hostile environment toward investment and job creation, Governor Wilson provided for market-based unsubsidized health coverage for employees of small businesses and obtained anti-fraud measures that drove down workers’ compensation premiums by 40 percent.
Governor Wilson also successfully pushed to enactment sweeping welfare reforms, including time limits and work requirements, and historic education reforms, including rigorous curricular standards, class-size reduction, and the replacement of social promotion with early, effective remedial education. He also began new programs of individualized testing of all students, teacher-competency and training, a longer instructional year, and a return to phonics and early mastery of reading, writing and mathematical skills. Governor Wilson led efforts to enact tougher crime measures and signed into law “Three Strikes,” (25 years to life for repeat felons) and “One Strike,” (25 years to life upon the first conviction of aggravated rape or child molestation). He left office with a public approval rating identical to that received by Ronald Reagan at the conclusion of his service as Governor.
After leaving office, he spent two years as a managing director of Pacific Capital Group, a merchant bank based in Los Angeles. He serves as a director of the Irvine Company, U.S. Telepacific Corporation, Inc., National Information Consortium Inc. and IDT Entertainment.
He is the Chairman of the National World War II Museum, and serves on the Board of the Richard Nixon Presidential Foundation, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation, and the Donald Bren Foundation and is a founding director of the California Mentor Foundation.
He has received the Woodrow Wilson Institute Award for Distinguished Public Service and the Patriots Award from the Congressional Medal of Honor Society.
A lawyer by trade, he graduated from Berkeley School of Law and is a proud U.S. Marine. He worked as an advance man on Richard Nixon’s campaign for Governor of California in 1962.