President Obama has nominated former U.S. Rep. Yvonne Brathwaite Burke, a trailblazing fixture in Los Angeles area politics, to the AMTRAK board of directors, the White House announced Thursday.
Pending Senate confirmation, Burke will join the seven-member board that oversees AMTRAK, the informal name for the National Railroad Passenger Corp.
Burke, who retired from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors in 2008 after 16 years, now is a member of the Office of Congressional Ethics and the California Transportation Commission.
As a young attorney in 1966, Burke made history when she became the first African American woman elected to the state Assembly. She was elected to Congress in 1972 and served until 1978. In 1979 she was appointed to a vacancy on the Board of Supervisors but lost her election bid the following year in a racially charged contest. In 1992, she won election to the board from a different district.
During her final year on the Board of Supervisors the district attorney’s office investigated whether she was living in Brentwood, outside her district. But criminal charges were not filed because it could not be determined whether she had intended to abandon her Mar Vista town house when she registered to vote there. Burke had announced her retirement plans nearly two years earlier.
[For the record, 2:03 p.m., March 30: An earlier version of this post misidentified the ethics body Burke serves on as the Committee on Congressional Ethics.]
Photo: Yvonne Burke in 2006. Credit: Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times