Charles Burson

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Charles Burson : biography

1944 –

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, 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."." 1999. Charles Burson first became friends with the future Vice President in 1968 during the time Gore was studying Tennessee history at Memphis State University. In 1984 he was the chairman of Gore’s senatorial campaign. 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.

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 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. Retrieved on September 7, 2011. Burson is married to Bunny Burson and has two daughters, Clare 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.