Politics Blog

Just in time for the 2010 governor’s race, a blast from Democratic State Attorney General Jerry Brown’s past is back in black — controversial French-born former actor, soldier and Brown aide Jacques Barzaghi, recently sighted on the streets of Oakland after years outside the country.

The Chronicle’s fab man-about-town Oakland columnist Chip Johnson spotted Brown’s old compadre in O-town, walking the shops on Lakeshore Avenue.

A surprise indeed. Old timers will remember that Brown and “zee bald guy,” Barzaghi, were described as an inseparable team for decades, all through Brown’s governorship starting in the ’70s, three presidential campaigns and even those Zen-like trips to Japan.

The aide was known for “uttering enigmatic statements in a thick French accent,” and for attending to a whole host of duties for Brown that included “vetting potential appointees, picking out drapes for Brown’s offices, approving his campaign commercials and selecting the mayoral clothes,” according to Chron archives.

But by the time the Brown aide-de-camp finally left town in 2004 he had trouble at home — and with Brown.

Barzaghi was being investigated for domestic violence against his then-sixth wife when he left his $114,00 a year city job. At the time, then-Brown aide Gil Duran (now with Sen. Dianne Feinstein) wouldn’t say if Barzaghi had been fired or had resigned.
Recently sited: Jacques back in Oakland

Recently sighted: Jacques back in Oakland

Before that, the city of Oakland paid $50,000 in 2001 to settle a sexual harassment claim against Barzaghi. The investigation of the incident uncovered complaints from several female employees — and Barzaghi was ordered to undergo counseling.

In the end, Barzaghi reportedly took off to Morocco — and stayed out of the limelight until spotted by Johnson two weeks ago in Oakland.

Barzaghi was still wearing his trademark black and bald head, Johnson told us.

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