Bill Samuels

Bill Samuels

Chairman
Effective New York
http://www.effectiveny.org

Biography

Bill Samuels, an innovative political thinker and social activist, has a lifetime of experience as a CEO, and high tech entrepreneur.  Currently, Bill is managing Director of Carlyle Capital Group and is Executive Chairman for the Hills Treatment Center in Los Angeles, a facility dedicated to helping people overcome addiction.

Raised in Canandaigua, Bill’s family and political roots are deeply anchored in upstate New York.  His father ran for Governor with Mario Cuomo as his Lieutenant Governor in 1974. Upon graduating MIT and Harvard Law School, Bill made the decision to engage in socially responsible businesses, turning down a job on Wall Street to start an education company dedicated to training entry level workers who lacked the skills to get and keep a job.

Bill was one of 15 national plaintiffs in 1968 that sued the Democratic National Committee to open the Presidential Primary process.  This lawsuit played a role in how the national presidential primaries have been run since 1972.

In 1969 he helped start a public interest organization, Council on Economic Priorities, which made public companies’ policies on the environment, women & minority achievement, South African and tobacco concerns, labor safety and all corporate disclosure of outside financial donations and investments. 

Bill was active in the movement against the Vietnam War playing a lead role in raising money to finance the 1971 Vietnam Veterans Against the War March on Washington.

After the 2000 Census, he helped finance the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of New York’s notoriously gerrymandered redistricting plan.

In the 2004 Presidential campaign, many Democrats were outraged by the huge influx of “independent” money into campaigns with the “swiftboating” against John Kerry. Bill produced a documentary to set the record straight, “Going Upriver: The Long War of John Kerry.” 

As a result of the vast fortunes sunk into empty television advertising by national political campaigns Bill saw both party identification and voting plunge.  In an effort to stem the tide and reinvigorate the Democratic party Bill founded the Blue Tiger Democrats in 2004 as an innovative grassroots research organization in Michigan and New York that studied how to use civic engagement to reconnect the Democratic Party to its communities between election cycles.

In June of 2006 Blue Tiger Democrats published an illustrated history of party politics with a focus on campaign finance, particularly how the anti-war and civil rights activism that opened the political party systems to the voters had the unintended consequences of empowering money.

In the 2008 elections, Bill served as Finance Chairman for the New York Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, leading to Democrats gaining control of the State Senate for the first time in decades.  In this role, Bill saw up close the corrosive influence of special interest money on elections.  He resigned when the new Democratic majority made Pedro Espada Majority Leader.

Recognizing the kind of fundamental structural change that is needed, Bill launched a multi-year campaign to achieve change around “Five Pillars of Reform” including a focus on New York’s campaign finance rules: highlighting the need for small donor empowerment, lowering contribution limits including the  closure of loopholes that have otherwise rendered them useless, and improving enforcement, so that our State Legislature can regain the integrity, functionality and common sense the voters are demanding.

He formed the New Roosevelt Initiative and built from scratch a field organization totally devoted to Albany reform. An office was opened in the Bronx and New Roosevelts executed a targeted field operation that ousted disgraced Democratic State Senator Pedro Espada.

Bill joined the 99% as a leading voice, fighting the repeal of the millionaires tax , while calling for a total overhaul of  New York’s existing tax structure in favor of one that is both progressive yet  supports the infrastructure and culture that business needs to thrive and grow local jobs.

In 2012, Common Cause recognized Bill honoring him with the Democracy in Action Award for outstanding commitment to government accountability.

Bill remains focused on making New York the leading progressive state so that it can once again serve as a national example.  He is a leading advocate for passing matching campaign finance law that empowers small downers, reversing the anti-pension atmosphere that is stripping the dignity from workers in their retirement years, and defeating the flawed Cuomo-Skelos-Silver constitutional amendment on redistricting that robs voters of the power to oust their own legislators.

Bill is one of 10 children — eight sisters and one brother — and is married to Marie Samuels and has a 16 year daughter, Kitty.

 

 

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