Who Is Valerie Jarrett?
Valerie Jarrett was born in November 1956 to American parents in Shiraz,
Iran, where her father -- a renowned physician -- ran a children's hospital.
When Valerie was five, her family relocated to London for one year before
settling in Chicago's elite Hyde Park neighborhood in 1963.
Jarrett's maternal grandfather was a Chicagoan named Robert Taylor, who in the
1940s was involved with such communist fronts as the American Peace Mobilization
and the Chicago Civil Liberties Committee. Also a member of these groups was
Frank Marshall Davis, the communist journalist who in the 1970s would mentor a
young Barack Obama.
Jarrett's mother (and Robert Taylor's daughter) is early-childhood-education
author Barbara Taylor Bowman, who co-founded a Chicago-based graduate school in
child development known as the Erikson Institute, named after the psychoanalyst
Erik Erikson; in 1950 Erikson became a hero to the left by choosing to resign
from his professorship at the University of California rather than sign an
anti-communist loyalty oath as the school required. Indicative of the Erikson
Institute's radical political orientation is the fact that its board of trustees
has included, in addition to Bowman, such figures as Tom Ayers (father of the
former Weather Underground terrorist and lifelong Marxist Bill Ayers) and
Bernardine Dohrn (longtime wife of Bill Ayers). Bill Ayers, for his part, called
Bowman "a neighbor and friend" in his 1997 book A Kind and Just Parent,
noting that his neighbors also included Louis Farrakhan and "writer Barack
Jarrett earned a B.A. in psychology from Stanford University in 1978, and a
Juris Doctorate from the University of Michigan Law School in 1981. In 1983 she
married Dr. William Robert Jarrett, son of the Chicago Sun-Times reporter
Vernon Jarrett. Vernon Jarrett was a pioneering black journalist who in the
1940s wrote columns for the communist-influenced Chicago Defender
extolling Communist poet Langston Hughes and lifelong Stalinists W.E.B. DuBois
and Paul Robeson. Also in the 1940s, Mr. Jarrett was a leader of the Chicago
chapter of American Youth for Democracy--youth wing of the Communist Party USA.
He also served on a publicity committee for the Packinghouse Workers Union, a
Chicago-based entity dominated by the CPUSA. In each of these endeavors, Mr.
Jarrett had close contact with Frank Marshall Davis.
Mr. He freelanced at Kansas City's The Call from 1954-58, then returned to
Chicago to become the first nationally syndicated black columnist for the Chicago
Tribune, and still later wrote for the Chicago Sun-Times. Mr.
Jarrett once sat on a union publicity committee (for the communist-controlled
Packinghouse Workers Union) with Frank Marshall Davis, the Communist poet who
occasionally counseled the young Barack Obama. When Vernon Jarrett died in 2004,
he was saluted in the pages of People's Weekly Worker, the house organ of the
Communist Party USA.
Valerie Jarrett entered Chicago politics in 1987 as Deputy Corporation Counsel
for Finance and Development in the administration of Harold Washington, the
city's first African-American mayor. Jarrett's father-in-law, whom The Washington
Post called "a key influence in [Harold] Washington's decision to run for
the Chicago mayoralty," may have facilitated Valerie's rise through Chicago's
After Washington's death in 1987, Valerie Jarrett worked for his successor,
Richard M. Daley, whom she served as Deputy Chief of Staff. In 1991 Jarrett and
her colleague Susan Sher recruited to Chicago's City Hall Michelle Robinson (the
future Michelle Obama), who at the time was engaged to Barack Obama. Jarrett
quickly became a trusted confidante of both the Obamas.
From 1992 through 1995, Jarrett served the Daley administration as Commissioner
of the Department of Planning and Development; from 1995 to 2005, she chaired
the Chicago Transit Board. From 1995 to 2008, she was CEO of The Habitat
Company, a real estate firm headed by Daniel Levin (cousin of Senator Carl Levin
and Representative Sander Levin of Michigan). Marilyn Katz, an
activist/public-affairs consultant with close ties to City Hall (and a former
Students for a Democrat Society radical) introduced Jarrett to Daniel Levin.
From 2000 to 2007, Jarrett was a board member of the Chicago Stock Exchange. She
currently serves as Chairman of the University of Chicago Medical Center's Board
of Trustees; Vice Chairman of the University of Chicago's Board of Trustees; a
Trustee of Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry; and a Board of Directors
member of USG Corporation, a Chicago-based building-materials company.
In 2008 Jarrett co-chaired the Obama-Biden Transition Project. After that, she
was appointed to a prominent position in the Obama administration: Senior
Advisor and Assistant to the President for Public Engagement and
Jarrett became one of President Obama's (and Mrs. Obama's) closest and most
trusted advisers. An Obama 2008 campaign official told the New York Times,
"If you want [Barack Obama] to do something, there are two people [he's] not
going to say no to: Valerie Jarrett and Michelle Obama." Also in 2008, the
aforementioned Susan Sher, who had helped Jarrett recruit Michelle Obama to the
Chicago mayor's office in 1991, emphasized "how incredibly instrumental [Jarrett
will] be in virtually everything" in the White House.
Barack Obama confirms Jarrett's tremendous cache with him, personally and
politically. In July 2009, Obama told New York Times reporter Robert
Draper, "I trust her completely ... She is family." Obama trusts Jarrett "to
speak for me, particularly when we're dealing with delicate issues." When asked,
the President admitted that he runs every decision by her.
"We have kind of a mind meld," Jarrett said of herself and the President. "And
chances are, what he wants to do is what I'd want to do."
Chicago tycoon Martin Nesbitt identified the source of Jarrett's power in the
fact that she establishes both Michelle and Barack Obama's "whole notion of
authenticity." According to Nesbitt, Jarrett channels the Obamas' inner voice,
telling them, for instance: "That's not you. You wouldn't say that. Somebody
else is saying that. Barack Obama wouldn't say that." Jarrett told Vogue
magazine, "I kind of know what makes them [the Obamas] who they are."
Jarrett is deeply concerned with racial issues. After the Jeremiah Wright tapes
threatened to sink Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign, it was Jarrett who
encouraged Obama to give his "race speech" at Constitution Hall.
African-American administration staffers have said that without Jarrett's
patronage, "their opinions and the often-legitimate concerns voiced by
black leaders like [Al] Sharpton would have been thoroughly disregarded by the
white-dominated senior staff." (Emphasis added.)
When White House press secretary Robert Gibbs tried to downplay Obama's
assertion (during the 2008 campaign) that Republicans were emphasizing the fact
that Obama "doesn't look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills,"
Jarrett instructed white staffers: "You guys, you're not getting this issue
right." After Jarrett's intervention, candidate Obama told his white staffers
that they were too "gun-shy on race issues." A campaign source revealed, "moving
forward, the candidate made it very clear to us that we were just a bunch of
white people who didn't get it – which, by the way, was true."
After Obama's inauguration in January 2009, Jarrett successfully pushed to
loosen restrictions barring government officials from meeting with lobbyists, a
rule enshrined in Obama's executive memo on the Recovery Act, for fear that
other "legitimate" concerns – raised by "civil rights organizations whose
directors happen to be registered lobbyists – will not be heard."
Without Jarrett's patronage, the self-identified communist revolutionary Van
Jones would not have gotten his appointment as the Obama administration's Green
Jobs Czar in March 2009. A White House official told Politico that
Jones "did not go through the traditional vetting process"; instead, Jarrett
interviewed Jones, a signal that she pushed for his appointment. Jarrett gushed
to the Netroots Nation conference:
"We were so delighted to be able to recruit him [Van Jones] into the White
House. We were watching him...for as long as he's been active out in Oakland.
And all the creative ideas he has. And so now, we have captured that, and we
have all that energy in the White House."
In early 2009 Jarrett lobbied President Obama to create the office of Chief
Diversity Officer within the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), a position
filled soon thereafter by Mark Lloyd, an Alinskyite and a former senior fellow
at the Center for American Progress.
Jarrett also helped recruit Obama's Regulatory Czar, Cass Sunstein, who supports
the Fairness Doctrine, has argued that Americans should "celebrate tax day," and
believes that animals should have legal standing to sue humans.
Moreover, Jarrett's office approved the September 2009 invitation of Jameel
Jaffer to a White House Ramadan dinner. Jaffer runs the ACLU's "national
security project." According to The American Spectator:
"Jaffer is a cause célèbre to the far left for his career of litigating
against the United States in support of terrorists and radical Islamists, and
has proudly touted his awards from groups like CAIR.
"'We had other names on the list for invitations, but Jarrett's office wanted
Jaffer in the room. We were told it was important,' says a White House source.
'It was made clear that his presence was something senior folks here wanted to
"Jaffer has filed lawsuits challenging the FBI's 'national security letter'
authority [and] the constitutionality of warrantless wiretaps. [He] has been a
leader in pushing for the shut down of Guantánamo Bay, and providing legal
rights to terrorists held by the United States overseas in such countries as
Iraq and Afghanistan. His efforts enabled the leaking of 'torture photos' out of
Iraq and Afghanistan, and some sources inside the Central Intelligence Agency
believe he was one of the lawyers who provided legal advice to the Department of
Justice to pursue an investigation into enhanced interrogation techniques used
by the CIA."
In September 2011, Jarrett said the following about what she viewed as the
proper role of government: "We have to give people a livelihood so they can
provide for their families.... His [President Obama's] is a moral vision. It's a
vision based very deeply in values and taking care of 'the least of these.' And
making sure that we are creating a country that's a country for everybody, not
just for the very, very wealthy. We are working hard to lift people out of
poverty and give them a better life, a footing, and that's what government is
supposed to do."
In his 2012 book, Leading From Behind, author Richard Miniter reveals
that Jarrett, prior to the May 2011 US killing of Osama bin Laden, had
repeatedly urged President Obama not to take out the al Qaeda leader, prompting
Obama to cancel the mission on three separate occasions.
A September 2012 article about Jarrett described her as "the only staff member
who regularly follows the president home from the West Wing to the residence, a
practice that has earned her the nickname 'the Night Stalker.'" The article
further identified Jarrett as the person responsible for a number of
controversial Obama administration policy decisions, including the
healthcare-reform bill's call for an insurance mandate for contraceptives,
abortifacients, and sterilization procedures; President Obama's decision to sue
the state of Arizona for its immigration-enforcement statute (SB-1020); and the
president's decision to allow illegal immigrants to apply for work permits.
In October 2012 it was revealed that for several months, Jarrett, who had no
experience in international negotiations, had been leading secret negotiations
with representatives of Iran's Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, in an effort to
develop normalized relations between the US and Iran.
This expose was originally published at
DiscoverTheNetworks.org. Portions of this
profile are adapted from the article, "Valerie
Jarrett: The Next Van Jones," written by Ben Johnson and published by
FrontPageMag.com on September 14, 2009.