John Van de Kamp, Former California Attorney General and L.A. County District Attorney, Dies at 81

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John Van de Kamp, right, leads a hearing of the California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice at Loyola Law School in 2007. (Credit: Carlos Chavez / Los Angeles Times)

John Van de Kamp, a towering political figure who became the top prosecutor in Los Angeles and then California before running for governor, died Tuesday at his home in Pasadena after a brief illness. He was 81.

Van de Kamp’s cause of death was not immediately released. His death was confirmed to The Times by Fred Registrar, a family friend, and by another friend and professional colleague.

Van de Kamp served as Los Angeles County district attorney and was the first federal public defender in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. He later gained a statewide profile and became California’s attorney general.

Van de Kamp mounted an unsuccessful campaign for governor in 1990, losing in the Democratic primary to Dianne Feinstein.

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