Born in Chicago on May 14, 1950, Jill Stein earned a bachelor’s degree in social relations from Harvard College in 1973, and an MD from Harvard Medical School in 1979. She went on to practice internal medicine until 2002, and also worked as a professor of medicine at her alma mater from 1982-2002.
In the 1990s Stein became involved in environmental activism, and she subsequently served in various capacities with organizations like Clean Water Action, the Greater Boston Physicians for Social Responsibility, the Toxics Action Center, and Physicians for a National Health Program. In 2008, she helped formulate “Secure Green Future,” a ballot initiative urging legislators to prioritize the creation of “green jobs” in Massachusetts.
Also an advocate for campaign finance reform, Stein in 1998 helped promote the Massachusetts Clean Elections Law, a bill designed to reduce the political influence of big-money lobbyists and special-interest groups. Under the terms of this bill, candidates who refused to agree to a $100 cap on the private contributions they accepted, would be denied public funds to co-finance their campaigns. In 2006 Stein served on the board of MassVoters for Fair Elections, whose stated mission, similarly, is to “minimize the role of money in elections.”
Stein began pursuing political aspirations in 2002, when she ran unsuccessfully for governor of Massachusetts on the ticket of the Green-Rainbow Party, a local state affiliate for the wider Green Party of the United States. She subsequently ran losing campaigns for a seat in the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 2004, and for Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth in 2006. In 2005 and 2008, Stein was elected as a Town Meeting Representative in Lexington, Massachusetts.
In 2012 and 2016, Stein ran failed campaigns for U.S. president on the Green Party ticket, garnering fewer than 1.5% of the votes in both races. Her 2012 presidential bid was supported by Noam Chomsky. Her 2016 campaign was endorsed by Cornel West, Medea Benjamin, Susan Sarandon, Marc Lamont Hill, Oliver Stone, Kevin Zeese, and Richard Wolff. In her acceptance speech for the Green Party nomination in 2016, Stein called for “free[ing] the political prisoners … Leonard Peltier, Mumia Abu Jamal, Chelsea Manning, Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, Jeffrey Sterling, and Edward Pinkney[.]”
In May 2016, Stein participated on several panels at the annual Left Forum gathering in New York City.
In September 2016 a North Dakota judge issued a warrant for Stein’s arrest — on charges of criminal trespass and criminal mischief — after she and her presidential running mate, Ajamu Baraka, had spray-painted construction equipment to protest the Dakota Access pipeline that, if built according to plans, would allegedly encroach upon sacred and culturally sensitive grounds belonging to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. According to The Associated Press, Stein sprayed the words “I approve this message” in red paint on the blade of a bulldozer, while Baraka painted the word “decolonization” on a separate piece of construction equipment. Before the criminal charges were filed against her, Stein voiced her hope that North Dakota authorities would “press charges against the real vandalism taking place at the Standing Rock Sioux reservation: the bulldozing of sacred burial sites and the unleashing of vicious attack dogs.”
In her 2016 presidential campaign platform, Stein:
In October 2016 the Daily Beast reported that although Stein had “largely based her [presidential] campaign on her uncompromising positions on the environment, opposition to big banks and Wall Street, defense contractors, and the pharmaceutical industry,” an analysis of her financial disclosures showed that she was “heavily invested” – to the tune of anywhere from $3.8 million to $8.5 million – “in the very industries that she malign[ed] the most.” Specifically, Stein was invested in funds whose holdings included energy companies like Chevron, Exxon, Conoco Phillips, Toho Gas, and Duke Energy; big banks like JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, and Deutsche Bank; the pharmaceutical giants Merck, Pfizer, Novartis, Johnson & Johnson, and Allergan; and the defense contractor Raytheon.
Stein is a multimillionaire. After the 2016 presidential election, she led an effort to recount the votes in the Midwestern swing states that had helped Donald Trump emerge victorious, raising more than $7.1 million to fund that initiative. In January 2017, the Washington Free Beacon reported that because the recount effort ultimately cost less than was initially projected, nearly 30 percent of that $7.1 million ended up in her possession:
“Green Party nominee Jill Stein will receive $2 million in refunds after initial estimates were well above the final costs of the failed presidential recount attempts in three battleground states, according to officials. Stein will use the leftover funds to launch a new voter integrity group.
“Stein, who pushed for recounts in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan, was only successful in initiating a recount in Wisconsin, an effort that ultimately netted 131 more votes for President-elect Donald Trump. Federal courts in Pennsylvania and Michigan halted Stein’s attempted recounts in the states. Wisconsin initially estimated that the effort would cost $3.5 million. A spokesman for the Wisconsin Elections Commission told the Washington Free Beacon on Tuesday that the final costs for 70 of the 72 counties in the state was $1.8 million. With the remaining two counties, the total costs could hit $2 million, the spokesman said. Stein would be reimbursed the remaining $1.5 million. Stein will also receive [an estimated $592,000] in reimbursements for the failed recount attempt in Michigan.”
Further Reading: “Jill Stein” (OpenSecrets.org, Boston.com, Ballotpedia.org, Keywiki,org); “Harvard Grad Jill Stein Faces Uphill Battle for Presidency” (TheCrimson.com, 11-30-2015); “Jill Stein Biography” (ProCon.org, 2016); “Robert Scheer Speaks With Jill Stein About the Green Party and the 2016 Election” (TruthDig.com, 2-8-2016); “Green Party Nominee Jill Stein” (KKFI.org, 2016).