Like executive heavyweights Michael Eisner and David Geffen, retired Senator Kevin Murray started his impressive career in the William Morris Agency's mailroom in Beverly Hills.
Rising to become senior vice president, he represented Chaka Khan, Smokey Robinson, the Temptations, the Ricky Nelson estate, and later, after leaving and returning, Lady Gaga.
In 1989, he left the agency to embark on a political career, first elected to the California Legislature representing the 47th Assembly District in 1994. After serving two terms, he was elected to the State Senate representing the 26th District covering Los Angeles and Culver City, retiring due to term limits in 2006.
Now add to these accomplishments his role as Politician-in-Residence in USC College. Practicing law in the areas of entertainment, real estate, insurance and dependency, he often gives lectures at USC related to the practical issues of politics.
On Tuesday, Oct. 12, Murray will participate in “Debate Watch 2010,” presented by the USC Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics headquartered in the College. A panel will discuss California’s heated gubernatorial race then watch a live broadcast of the final debate between Democrat Jerry Brown and Republican Meg Whitman.
Panelists include Murray and Margita Thompson, former press secretary for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and former political producer for Larry King Live. The moderator will be Gordon Stables, USC Annenberg debate director and clinical assistant professor of communication. The event begins at 6 p.m. and will be held at the USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism’s East Lobby.
Murray’s involvement with USC began when he was a senator.
“USC was in my district,” he said. “I started meeting people from USC, from the Unruh Institute, and I started being invited to speak at events. I can share with students my experiences in politics, giving them a practical rather than academic view.”
Ann Crigler, chair and professor of political science in the College, and acting director of the Unruh Institute, was delighted that Murray has been named Politician-in-Residence.
“It’s wonderful having him speak to our students,” Crigler said. “He brings years of experience in Sacramento and working with clients in the entertainment industry. Quite a few of our students are interested in entertainment law and he can show them a good path for that.”
In the California State Assembly, Murray, a Democrat, served as chair of the Transportation Committee. In the senate, he was chair of the Appropriations Committee, Transportation Committee, Democratic Caucus and California Legislative Black Caucus. He also served on the California Film Commission.
Throughout his career, Murray has been a champion in the areas of solar energy, consumer privacy, urban parks, economic development, civil rights, the Internet, healthcare access, transportation issues, artists’ rights and the entertainment industry. Among other legislative accomplishments, he authored SB1, the landmark “Million Solar Roofs” bill providing over $3 billion to expand the use of solar energy in California.
He was instrumental in crafting Proposition 12 and Proposition 40 — two measures approved by voters that provided $4.6 billion for state and local parks programs. The propositions created the Murray/Hayden Urban Parks Program, the Baldwin Hills Conservancy and funded the development and maintenance of new urban parks, youth facilities and athletic fields throughout the state.
Murray was one of the country’s first legislators to identify and address the need to protect consumers on the Internet. As senator, he led a forceful effort to stop Internet related crime by creating several first-in-the-nation laws protecting consumers from identity theft, e-mail spam and Internet spyware.
After retiring from the senate, Murray rejoined the William Morris Agency, then in June 2009 started The Murray Group, a legal and consulting firm specializing in public policy and entertainment.
Earning his BSBA degree from California State University, Northridge, Murray received his MBA from Loyola Marymount University, and his JD from Loyola Law School.
In addition to Tuesday’s event, Murray will act as moderator during the Unruh Institute’s “Students Talk Back” panel discussion Tuesday, Oct. 26. Called “Governor’s Race: The Home Stretch,” the event will include panelists Keith Olberg, former California State Assemblyman representing the eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains and California desert communities, as well as Andre Pineda, the principal at Pineda Consulting, a polling firm in Pasadena, Calif.
The Oct. 26 event will be held at the University Religious Center’s Fishbowl Chapel, beginning with lunch at 11:30 a.m., followed by discussion from noon to 1 p.m. The “Students Talk Back” series are lunchtime discussions about local, state, national or international policies and politics.