Over the course of six years, the Texas native has been appointed to four government positions by President George W. Bush, solidifying strong ties to the Bush family that have shaped his career in public service.
And now Gonzales holds influence as one of the top advisors to the president, providing advice on matters ranging fromjudicial appointments to e Enron investigation subpoenas to whether to hold military tribunals on al-Qaeda captives.
With his moderate political views representing much of the “compassionate conservatism” that Bush has frequently used as a tag line for his brand of Republican politics, the highest ranking Hispanic member of the administration is often seen as an indication of a new Republican image.
And some believe that his current office may be merely a stepping stone for the ultimate Bush appointment—the United States Supreme Court.
His nomination would not be a surprise, considering the relationship that Gonzales has fostered with the current president in the last decade.
“I understand how important it is to have a person who I can trust and whose judgment I trust to serve as the White House Counsel,” President Bush said at a press conference announcing Gonzales as the first Hispanic American to hold the prominent White House position. “Al is a man who has only one standard in mind when it comes to ethics, and that is the highest of high standards.”
Don’t Mess With Texas
The son of migrant farm workers, Gonzales grew up in a crowded two-bedroom house in Houston, TX with seven siblings.
After attending public high school, Gonzales enlisted in the Air Force and was stationed at Fort Yukon, Alaska, before entering the United States Air Force Academy, where he remained for two years.
But in 1977, Gonzales changed his career interests from pilots to politics, transferring to Rice University to pursue a degree in political science. After graduating in 1979, Gonzales set his sights on Harvard Law School (HLS), where he received a J.D. in 1982.
In the years following his graduation from HLS, Gonzales worked in corporate law at the Houston law firm Vinson & Elkins—now infamous for its role as Enron’s law firm—where he eventually made partner in 1991.
Gonzales received numerous accolades during his time in corporate law, in which he focused on business, energy and real estate.
The Texas Young Lawyers Association named Gonzales as the Outstanding Young Lawyer of Texas in 1992. In 1994, he was selected as one of Five Outstanding Young Texans by the Texas Jaycees, a social and community organization.
In addition, Gonzales served as president of the Houston Hispanic Bar Association, and as chair of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly of Harris County.
His strong legal background and connections to the Bush family led to his appointment in 1995 as general counsel to then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush, fulfulling similar duties to the ones he holds now at the White House.