Bill Samuels

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Bill Samuels
Bill Samuels.jpg
Born (1943-02-10) February 10, 1943 (age 75)
Richmond, Virginia, USA
Alma mater MIT, Harvard Law School
Occupation Businessman and political activist
Known for Political activism- People's Convention, Blue Tiger Democrats, Effective NY, New Roosevelt,
Home town Hopewell, NY
Movement Democratic Party
Spouse(s) Marie Samuels
  • Howard Samuels (father)
  • Barbara Samuels (mother)

William Christie Samuels is a New York City-based progressive Democrat, businessman, founder and chairman of the board of the good government group EffectiveNY and the EffectiveNY Howard Samuels Policy Center. He has recently been awarded the 2017 Center for Popular Democracy Social Justice Award.[1] He was also a host of Effective Radio on AM970,[2] a monthly, two-hour program aimed at enacting major statewide policy changes from a constitutional right to clean air and water to term limits for Albany, to a new approach to drug addiction and marijuana legalization, while educating New Yorkers on a "People's Convention."[3]

Samuels has been active in progressive politics since organizing against the Vietnam War in the 1970s. In his business career, he built ACTV, Inc. which developed patents for interactive television. The company was sold to an affiliate of Liberty Media.[4] He also recently sold his Silicon Valley technology company, Resonant Software, to IPipeline.[5]

Samuels is the son of Howard J. Samuels (December 3, 1919 – October 26, 1984), an American statesman, industrialist, civil rights activist and philanthropist who served as U.S. Under Secretary of Commerce and Director of the Small Business Administration under President Johnson, and special advisor to the campaign for president by John F. Kennedy and the administration of President Carter.[6][7]

Early life and background[edit]

Samuels was raised in upstate New York in Canandaigua, the son of Howard and Barbara Samuels. His father Howard J. Samuels served as U.S. Under Secretary of Commerce under President Lyndon B. Johnson and was Director of the Small Business Administration and founded Kordite, now known as Pactive.[8] In 1974 his father ran for Governor with Mario Cuomo as his Lieutenant Governor ultimately losing to Hugh Carey.

Samuels was active in his father's campaign as a young adult. Bill Samuels attended MIT where he earned undergraduate degrees in political science, economics, and engineering. He later graduated from Harvard Law School.[9]

Samuels built an education company, APC Skills, for entry level workers, with divisions in Brazil, Europe, Mexico, and Asia [9] that merged in 1987 with the Alexander Proudfoot company. In 1988, it became a publicly traded company on the London exchange (symbol MMC).[10] Subsequently, he built ACTV, a public company on the NASDAQ (symbol IATV) [11] which was responsible for 50 patents on intellectual property specifically for interactive television which led to a sale of the company to an affiliate of Liberty Media.[9]

Samuels currently partners with this brother Howard C. Samuels in his drug treatment center in Los Angeles, known as the Hills Treatment Center.[12]

Samuels lives with his daughter, Kitty, and his wife, Marie, in downtown NYC.

1970s activism[edit]

In 1971, Samuels became involved in the anti-war movement and raised money for the 1971 Vietnam Veterans Against the War March on Washington.[13] Samuels participated in a lawsuit against the 1972 Democratic National Convention along with Shirley Chisholm and others, that argued that the one man, one vote Supreme Court ruling required one Democrat, one-vote apportionment of delegates at the 1972 Democratic Convention. The lawsuit failed.[14] He was also a founding member of the Council on Economic Priorities (CEP) which was involved with promoting social investment.[15]

Political career[edit]

Legal advocacy[edit]

Samuels filed a civil rights lawsuit against the Gramercy Park Trust in 2001 after groups of fourth and fifth grades were removed from the park.[16] The lawsuit ended with a large financial settlement for the students for the treatment they had received.

New York State Senate Democratic campaign[edit]

Samuels founded the Blue Tiger Democrats in 2004, a research project that did projects in Michigan and New York on how to use civic engagement to reconnect the Democratic Party to its communities between election cycles.[17] In 2005 Samuels turned his attention to reforming Albany and provided the initial funding for a liberal blog that runs issue and advocacy campaigns known as the Albany Project.[18][19]

In 2006 and 2007, Samuels was a speaker at the Milken Institute Global Conference. His speeches focused on how to make political parties and the process more respected.[20]

In 2006, he was named by Eliot Spitzer as Vice Finance Chairman for the New York Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, and became Chairman in 2008, regaining control of the New York State Senate for the Democratic Party for the first time in decades.[21][22] However, the new Democratic leadership soon lost their majority when Democratic Senator Pedro Espada defected to the Republican Party.[23]

2010 Lieutenant Governor campaign[edit]

In April 2010, Bill Samuels announced his campaign for lieutenant governor, independent of Andrew Cuomo.[24] Samuels' goal was to leverage the position's ceremonial role as State Senate President to achieve what he believed to be fundamental change in Albany through pillars of reform: Fiscal reform, Redistricting reform, Campaign finance reform, ethics reform.

However, after discussions with the Andrew Cuomo campaign, and Cuomo's promise[25] to change the old culture of how Albany was run and to support an early Constitutional Convention vote in 2011, Samuels ended his campaign in order to focus his energy on his effort to oust corrupt Senator Pedro Espada and bring reform to Albany.[26] Nevertheless, Cuomo kept none of his promises.

Independent Expenditure Committee [edit]

Samuels formed the New Roosevelt Initiative, an independent expenditure committee concerned with New York’s fiscal practices, ethics rules, redistricting policies, and campaign finance practices.[27] In 2009, New Roosevelt hired Benjamin Kallos,now a New York City Councilman, as Executive Director.[28]

Samuels and New Roosevelt were among the first to call for unity behind Gustavo Rivera who he endorsed in July 2010.[29] New Roosevelt opened an office in the Bronx, built a field organization, did eight direct mailings and organized a large get out the vote effort. On September 15, 2010, Gustavo Rivera defeated the disgraced incumbent Espada by a margin of nearly 2 to 1.[30] Since the election, Senator Pedro Espada has been convicted of civil and criminal charges.[31]

Common Cause honored him with the Common Cause Democracy in Action award at their annual awards dinner on Tuesday November 29, 2011.[32]

Constitutional change[edit]

In January 2012, Samuels, concerned with what he believed to be Cuomo’s lack of commitment to fundamentally changing how Albany functions, launched the Citizens Committee for an Effective Constitution at that was devoted to raising awareness of New York State constitutional changes that he believed would increase transparency and end corrupt practices.[33] focuses on a wide range of needed reforms from high-profile issues like campaign finance and redistricting to those that are often unknown but equally important, like the message of necessity.[34]

The effort was bipartisan, with Samuels, an active Democrat, teaming up with Republican Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb and Professor Gerald Benjamin from SUNY New Paltz.[35] In 2017 the voters will decide if there should be a Constitutional Convention.[36]

Samuels’ father, Howard Samuels, had created a similar bi-partisan organization by the same name in 1965 that proposed many of the same recommendations for reform that remain undone today.[37]

In preparation for the 2017 referendum on a Constitutional Convention, Samuels started, a website dedicated to mobilizing voters to change a "badly antiquated constitution." [38] The website features analyzes of numerous reforms that Samuels believes needs to be added to the state's constitution.


Samuels helped finance a losing lawsuit to challenge the constitutionality of the gerrymandered New York State Senate lines following the 2000 Census.

2014 Lieutenant Governor campaign[edit]

In an effort to get Cuomo to endorse progressive stands,[39] Samuels announced in 2014 he was mulling another bid for Lieutenant Governor against Kathy Hochul, who if elected would be the first Democratic woman elected to the post in decades, an announcement which drew consternation from several elected female Democratic lawmakers.[40] Hochul was the running mate of incumbent Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo.

Samuels said of Governor Cuomo, "When history is written, he'll just be a mediocre governor that had a Nixon personality."[41] In June 2014 Samuels announced he would not be a candidate for Lieutenant Governor.[42]

Effective Radio[edit]

In 2015, Samuels began hosting a radio program on AM 970 The Answer.[43] The program began as a one-hour weekly series, and has since moved to a two-hour per month format, with each episode focusing on a major issue of the state constitution that a "People's Convention" should address.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Center for Popular Democracy's Standing Strong Together NYC Benefit". Center for Popular Democracy. 
  2. ^ Barkan, Ross. "One of Andrew Cuomo’s Biggest Critics Is Getting a Radio Show." Observer News. October 15, 2015.
  3. ^ "Bill Samuels Launches Campaign to Innovate and Reform Albany with Radio Series on 2017 Constitution Vote". Effectiveny. 
  4. ^ Fink, Zak. "This is Something for the Radio." State of Politics. October 19, 2015.
  5. ^ "IPipeline Acquires Resonant". IPipeline. 
  6. ^ "Howard Samuels, developer of the nation's first off-track betting..." UPI. 
  8. ^ "Samuels Named to Head Small Business Agency". New York Times. 
  9. ^ a b c Clavin, Thomas (January 7, 1996). "Long Island Q&A: William Samuels;A Pioneer in Introducing Interactive Television Programming". The New York Times. 
  10. ^ "COMPANY NEWS; City and Foreign To Buy U.S. Firm". The New York Times. August 22, 1987. 
  11. ^ "ACTV INC /DE/ (IATV) SPO". 
  12. ^ "The Hills Treatment Center". Archived from the original on 2011-03-15. 
  13. ^ Ratner, Lizzy. "Democratic Scion Plumps for New Tammany". The New York Observer. Retrieved December 9, 2011. 
  14. ^ "452 F. 2d 1302 - Bode v. National Democratic Party". September 30, 1971. 
  15. ^ Moore, M.M. ""Green IT": The Council on Economic Priorities and The Dow Jones Sustainability Group". CXO Media Inc. Retrieved December 9, 2012. 
  16. ^ Klienfeld, N.R. (January 18, 2001). "Federal Lawsuit Charges Racial Exclusion at Gated Gramercy Park". New York Times. Retrieved 9 December 2011. 
  17. ^ "Michigan Blue Tiger Democrats". Michigan Democratic State Central Committee. Archived from the original on November 9, 2011. Retrieved December 9, 2011. 
  18. ^ Worker, Howard. "The Albany Project: New York's Biggest Liberal Blog Catches Attention." Yahoo News. July 26, 2008.
  19. ^ Anderson, Phillip "Hey, NYS! We're Bringing Back The Albany Project." Daily Kos. October 21, 2014.
  20. ^ "Milken Institute Global Conference". Archived from the original on 2006-04-20. 
  21. ^ Paybarah, Azi. "Dem Money Man on Spitzer "Misstep," Institutional Independence". The New York Observer. Archived from the original on 4 August 2007. Retrieved 9 December 2011. 
  22. ^ Pillifant, Reid. "Bill Samuels Praises Newly Independent Democrats". The New York Observer. Retrieved 9 December 2011. 
  23. ^ Confessore, Nicholas (June 9, 2009). "Before Defecting, Espada Sought $2 Million for Bronx Groups". The New York Times. 
  24. ^ "Bill Samuels to Launch Independent Campaign for Lieutenant Governor". City Hall News. 
  25. ^ Mahoney, Bill (December 31, 2015). "Cuomo muted in support of constitutional convention". Politico New York. 
  26. ^
  27. ^ New Roosevelt: About Bill
  28. ^ Benjamin, Liz (April 12, 2010). "Bill 'Nice Guy' Samuels For LG". YNN's Capital Tonight. Archived from the original on April 26, 2011. 
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^ "Ex-state Sen. Pedro Espada convicted of stealing from Bronx health clinic". Daily News. New York. 
  32. ^ "Common Cause Honors Adelaide Gomer, Leo Hindery Jr., and Bill Samuels at Annual Awards Dinner". readMedia. 
  33. ^ Gormley, Michael (January 29, 2012). "Analysis: Effort Would Help People Change NY Gov't". Long Island Press. Archived from the original on March 2, 2012. 
  35. ^ Harding, Robert (February 5, 2012). "Eye on NY: New coalition to focus on state constitutional reform". Auburn Citizen. 
  36. ^ "TRS: The 2017 constitutional convention vote — what you should know". March 10, 2015. 
  37. ^
  38. ^ "Home Page". NY People's Convention. 
  39. ^ Vielkind, Jimmy "Bill Samuels finally falls in behind Cuomo." Politico New York. May 27th, 2014.
  40. ^ Benjamin, Liz. "Democratic Women Urge Samuels To Not Run For LG." Capital Tonight. May 27th, 2014.
  41. ^ Marlin, George J. "Is it over already for cantankerous Cuomo?." Long Island Business News. May 27, 2014.
  42. ^ Benjamin, Liz. "Bill Samuels Says The WFP Stood Up To Cuomo." Capital Tonight. June 2, 2014.
  43. ^ "Effective Radio with Bill Samuels". 

External links[edit]