Bill Simon (politician)

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Bill Simon
Bill-simon.jpg
Bill Simon, in mid-2005
Born William Edward Simon, Jr.
(1951-06-20) June 20, 1951 (age 63)
Neptune, New Jersey
Education B.A. Williams College, J.D. Boston College
Employer William E. Simon & Sons
Religion Roman Catholic[1]

William Edward "Bill" Simon, Jr. (born June 20, 1951) is an American businessman and politician. In 2002, Simon campaigned unsuccessfully for Governor of California as a Republican against Democratic incumbent Gray Davis. Billed as a "conservative Republican," the virtually unknown Simon's campaign was significantly boosted by support from better-known Republican officeholders from outside California, including former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.

Background[edit]

Simon was born in Neptune, New Jersey, the son of Carol (Girard) and William E. Simon, Sr., the 63rd Secretary of the Treasury under Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. Simon, Sr., also served as director of the Federal Energy Office.[1] Coincidentally, Simon was a childhood friend of former Democratic party chair Howard Dean.

Simon earned a B.A. from Williams College in 1973, where he was admitted to the Zeta Psi fraternity, and a J.D. from Boston College in 1982. From 1986 to 1988, Simon served as Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, working under then-U.S. Attorney Rudolph Giuliani.

In 1988, Simon co-founded William E. Simon & Sons, a global merchant bank, with his father and brother.[1] Simon managed the family business (which has over $3 billion in assets), as the Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and as a trustee for the Heritage Foundation.[1] Simon also chairs the William E. Simon Foundation.[1] Simon has contributed some of his personal resources to assist less fortunate youths through educational scholarships and beautification of California schools.[1]

2002 gubernatorial primary[edit]

Simon won the Republican nomination in the primary election of March 2002. Some credit Simon's primary win to incumbent Governor Gray Davis' preemptive campaign against Simon's major primary opponent, former Los Angeles mayor Richard Riordan, a moderate Republican, whom Davis considered a more formidable opponent. At the beginning of the campaign Riordan had higher name recognition and popularity than any other gubernatorial candidate. In fact Riordan began attacking Davis early on in the primaries, as if he already had the GOP nomination, which is what prompted the counter-attack according to Garry South, Davis' campaign manager.

Simon's come-from-behind win reflected both the GOP's dissatisfaction with Riordan's inability to appeal to the GOP base (he had publicly insulted George Deukmejian, California's most popular Republican governor since Ronald Reagan, and it was revealed that he had supported Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein with campaign contributions) and support for Simon's straight-conservative image.[2] Both Riordan and Simon are Roman Catholics and Knights of Malta, with Riordan pro-choice on abortion, and Simon, pro-life.

Simon polled 1,129,973 primary votes (49.4 percent) to Riordan's 715.768 (31.3 percent). Another 387,237 ballots (16.9 percent) were cast for Bill Jones, then the California secretary of state.

2002 gubernatorial election[edit]

Davis's campaign advertisements made heavy use of scandals relating to alleged mismanagement of Simon's business and charities, though one of the major court rulings unfavorable to Simon was since overturned.

In August 2002, a California Superior Court jury found Simon's company guilty of defrauding an estranged business partner in a civil lawsuit and ordered him to pay $78 million in damages.[3] The jury ruled that Simon's company, William E. Simon & Sons, defrauded Paul Hindelang, Jr., a convicted drug trafficker, in a deal to take over Hindelang's pay phone company, Pacific Coin. The jury found that Simon's company hid its plans to expand and take Hindelang's company public against his wishes, and that Pacific Coin collapsed under the weight of the debt that Simon's company piled on it in its attempts to expand the pay phone service. Simon, co-chair of Simon & Sons, was not named as a defendant in the case and has said that he was not involved in the daily management of the firm. The judge overturned the jury's verdict, a decision the California Court of Appeal affirmed in February 2006.

Simon's campaign centered largely on allegations of corruption in the incumbent's administration, and Davis's handling of the 2001 energy crisis.

Immediately after the gubernatorial debate against Gray Davis, Simon accused Davis of receiving campaign funds in the Lt. Governor's office, a felony. Simon distributed a photo of Davis being handed a check and insisted that the picture was taken in the Lt. Governor's office in the State capitol. Within an hour of its release the location in the picture was determined to have no resemblance to the Lt. Governor's office, and within a few days the location was identified as Bruce Karatz's home in Southern California.[4]

Despite Davis's high disapproval ratings, he managed to defeat Simon by a margin of 47.3% of the vote to Simon's 42.4%.[5]

After gubernatorial campaign[edit]

When the 2003 California recall became a reality, Simon announced he would once again be a candidate for California Governor but ran for only a short time after he qualified for the ballot before withdrawing from the race August 23, 2003.

He said, "There are too many Republicans in this race and the people of our state simply cannot risk a continuation of the Gray Davis legacy." Simon did not endorse any candidates until several weeks later, when he endorsed front-runner Arnold Schwarzenegger. Despite dropping out, his name still appeared in the ballot, and he placed 12th in a field of 135 candidates.

Simon spent most of 2004 and 2005 preparing to run for California state treasurer in 2006, and although he was the clear front-runner for the Republican nomination, he dropped out in October 2005 citing the need to devote more time and attention to his family and four children. He is currently married to Cindy Simon, and together they have three children, Willie, Lulu, and Griffith. They live in Pacific Palisades, Los Angeles, and have a vacation home on Maui and Sun Valley, Idaho. He also has a daughter, Cary, from his first marriage.

On February 26, 2007, he was appointed as the Director of Policy for the Rudy Giuliani presidential exploratory committee.[6] Simon was the most influential member of the Giuliani campaign, and was referred to many times as Giuliani's "Professor."

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Move over Gray Davis...
  2. ^ Primary Day What Riordan did wrong
  3. ^ Simon’s Campaign Revived by Judge’s Ruling
  4. ^ Simon's attack on Davis backfires / 'Evidence' photo isn't clear proof of illegal donation
  5. ^ http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/sov/2002_general/gov.pdf Office of the California Secretary of State. "Statement of Vote, 2002 General Election, Governor by County," (retrieved on March 30th, 2009).
  6. ^ Join Rudy February 26, 2007.
Party political offices
Preceded by
Dan Lungren
Republican Party nominee for Governor of California
2002
Succeeded by
Arnold Schwarzenegger