New Roosevelt


New Roosevelt is not a formal organization, but the brand created by activist Bill Samuels to spur change to make New York State’s legislature the best in the nation.

The focus of New Roosevelt, working with Effective New York, is major constitutional and statutory reform in the following areas:
• Redistricting: Defeating the 2014 proposed redistricting amendment;
• Campaign Finance: Small donor empowerment through eliminating corporate and LLC contributions and creating a state system of public financing modeled on New York City.
• Reversing the $8.4 billion of Medicaid that Albany uniquely forces the counties and New York City to pay.
• Ending the unequal educational funding that discriminates against the poorest school districts.
• Creative approaches to retirement saving for New York’s working families.
• Making New York’s legislature one of the best in the nation.

These are neither Republican nor Democratic issues but are necessary in order to eliminate the dysfunction that has plagued New York State. In this effort Bill advocates for progressive change.

In 2010 through the New Roosevelt Initiative, Bill supported the election of idealist insurgents like now-Senator Gustavo Rivera to defeat disgraced now-former Senator Pedro Espada. Having succeeded in this campaign, the New Roosevelt Initiative closed.

Bill’s ultimate goal is to create a truly great legislature that includes principled and capable leaders such as Teddy, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt were when they started their political careers in Albany. Through New Roosevelt we will make New York’s State Legislature Best in the Nation.


The New Roosevelt Initiative was an independent expenditure campaign committee founded by activist Bill Samuels, dedicated to helping elect progressive, reform-minded state legislators who would help restore New York State’s government and economy.

In the 2010 Primary Election, the New Roosevelt Initiative successfully campaigned against disgraced senator Pedro Espada, bringing a victory to the reform candidate Gustavo Rivera. In New Roosevelt Initiative’s engagement we implemented surgically targeted field outreach including door to door work, grass-tops organizing, telephone outreach, mail, and other communication tools.

During this campaign we did not coordinate with Gustavo Rivera. Our determination of whom we supported was wholly based on publicly available information, such as web sites, media interviews, and past voting history (where available).

Following this successful campaign, the New Roosevelt Initiative was closed, and no longer exists.

On June 15th, 2013, Pedro Espada was sentenced to five years in prison for theft.


Our great Empire State, finds itself at a critical time. We are saddled with a government that is ineffective, plagued by corruption and scandal and lacking the visionary leadership that once defined our state. With the Empire State sliding into decline, major problems remain unaddressed, and people with the potential to become leaders avoid elected office in favor of more honorable professions.

It was not always thus. About 100 years ago, when Franklin Delano Roosevelt won his first campaign for the state senate, he entered an Albany that was led by an extraordinary collection of New Yorkers. The governor was the Republican Charles Evans Hughes, who became a U.S. Secretary of State and a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. The legislature Roosevelt served in had future governor and presidential candidate Alfred E. Smith as head of the Assembly, and future U.S. Senator Robert F. Wagner leading the State Senate. It was perhaps the best collection of leaders the Empire State ever had.

The Albany of today however, has become a national laughingstock. With increasing frequency we read about corruption scandals, sex scandals and even violent criminal activity from the very individuals who are elected to represent us. Even legislators who come in with the highest standards of integrity and the best of intentions will unavoidably be drawn down into the mire of Albany’s legislative dysfunction. The motivations of individual politicians doesn’t matter now because the rules and laws which govern the lawmakers themselves are systemically flawed.

These are not new problems.

In 1860, William Tweed became head of Tammany Hall and in the same year, opened a private law office to collect fees from corporations doing business with the city. In 1868, when he became a State Senator, his law practice remained open and thrived with his new “business” contacts.

During the 1860s Tweed parlayed political influence into hard cash. Despite meager legal knowledge, he opened a law office to dispense “legal services” to such corporations as the Erie Railroad.

150 years later, little has changed. The leaders and many members of both Houses of the legislature have private law practices, taking on clients which the public has no right to know. Other members serve as “consultants” to entities with business before the legislature whose identities are similarly shielded. The Senate’s former Majority Leader has already been convicted of stealing honest services from his constituents, and multiple investigations are examining the extracurricular activities of members of the current Senate leadership.

We need a new generation of legislators who will take the lead in ending these unscrupulous and embarrassing practices. Our State Legislature launched the political careers of both Franklin and Theodore Roosevelt, great reformers in Albany who went on to do great things for our nation.

The New Roosevelt Initiative served as a model, supporting those candidates for State Senate who had the independence, integrity and commitment to change our State legislature for the better. Focusing on the core reforms that are needed, candidates elected in part through these efforts are working to create a legislature that returns dignity to elective office and restores honor to public service.


We have revived the old New York Democratic Tiger to represent our new direction. The Tiger was originally the symbol of Engine Six, then a volunteer fire company in Lower Manhattan in the early 19th century. This company still exits, and was one of the first responders on 9/11 who lost four men on that terrible day. The Tiger is aggressive and demands respect. Our new Tiger will not be associated with the graft of yesterday. Since we have no tolerance for corruption, it will be a symbol for reform, a way of bringing the best practices of the past to help build our future.

The Tiger was the favorite animal of legendary Delaware Indian Chief Tamanend, for whom the Society of Tammany was named, when it was founded in the 1780’s as a benevolent and charitable organization to provide extensive social services and support to its members.

“The tiger affords a useful lesson for you. The exceeding agility of this creature, the extraordinary quickness of his sight, and above all, his discriminating power in the dark, teach you… to look sharp to every engagement you enter into; and to let neither misty days, nor gloomy nights, make you lose sight of the worthy objects of your pursuit.”
—Chief Tamanend (Attr.) (Connable and Silberfarb, 1967)