Why are CA politicians ditching public office, going nonprofit?


Publish Date:
January 27, 2022
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The departures come not just among the legislative branch’s term-limited members. For me, the most noteworthy resignation came last fall when California Supreme Court justice Tino Cuellar departed.

Why leave a seat on a court seen as second in influence only to the U.S. Supreme Court? Cuellar was thriving in the job. But the justice, a 49-year-old legal and international affairs scholar previously at Stanford, agreed to become president of a leading international think tank, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

The post offers not just higher pay than state service but the possibility of making a greater impact. A state supreme court is limited to the California cases that come before it. At Carnegie, Cuellar can work to address a tsunami of global challenges crashing down on all of humanity — from climate change to economic inequality, and from mass migration to technological disruption. And he doesn’t even have to leave California to do it. Carnegie is opening a Silicon Valley office.

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