Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari responded to reports that he had a spotty voting record, acknowledging that he has not gone to the polls in every election. He pointed to his decision to leave a lucrative investment banking career to work for the U.S. Treasury Department as proof that he values public engagement.
"I believe voting is critical, and civic participation is critical. That's why I left a very attractive career in the private sector to go serve in the government for three years under two different presidents," Kashkari said when asked by reporters about a report in the San Francisco Chronicle that he failed to vote in nearly half the elections he was eligible for since registering in California in 1998. Video of Kashkari's exchange with reporters after he spoke at an East Palo Alto school was posted on the Chronicle's website Wednesday.
Kashkari left Goldman Sachs to work under President George W. Bush and President Obama and led the taxpayer-funded bank bailout. After returning to the private sector in 2009, he managed global equities at Pimco until he stepped down in 2013 to explore a gubernatorial bid.
In the video, Kashkari said he voted in nearly all presidential and gubernatorial general elections in his adult life. "I believe voting is very important," he said.
Asked about his higher rate of non-participation during local elections, Kashkari said that he did not ignore such ballots and believes that local elections are important. He added that he frequently had last-minute travel during the early 2000s, and did not realize he was eligible to cast absentee ballots until he learned that from his colleagues.