William Weld: Wikis


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William Weld

In office
January 3, 1991 – July 29, 1997
Lieutenant Paul Cellucci
Preceded by Michael Dukakis
Succeeded by Paul Cellucci

Born July 31, 1945 (1945-07-31) (age 64)
Smithtown, New York
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Susan Roosevelt Weld (1975 - 2002)
Leslie Marshall
Profession Attorney

William Floyd Weld (born July 31, 1945, in Smithtown, New York) was the Republican Governor of Massachusetts from 1991 to 1997.[1] From 1981 to 1988, he was a federal prosecutor in the United States Justice Department. In November 2006, he rejoined the international law firm of McDermott Will & Emery as a partner in its New York office.[2]


Weld family

William Weld's ancestor Edmund Weld was among the earliest students (Class of 1650) at Harvard College. He would be followed by eighteen more Welds at Harvard, where two buildings are named for the family. General Stephen Minot Weld Jr. fought with distinction in many major battles of the Civil War.

William Weld has a sense of humor about his background; when Massachusetts Senate president Billy Bulger publicly teased him about his all-American heritage and wealth, pointing out that his ancestors had come over on the Mayflower, Weld rose on the dais with a correction: "Actually, they weren't on the Mayflower. They sent the servants over first to get the cottage ready."[3]

Weld's father David (1911-1972) was an investment banker; his mother was Mary Floyd Weld (1913-1986) was a descendant of William Floyd who was a signer of the Declaration of Independence. His siblings are Dr. Francis "Tim" Weld, David Weld (d. 2005), and Anne (m. Collins).


Weld was educated at Middlesex School. He graduated summa cum laude from Harvard College in 1966, studied economics at University College, Oxford and graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1970.

Early career

Weld began his legal career as a counsel with the House Judiciary Committee during the Watergate impeachment inquiry.

He served for five years as United States Attorney in Massachusetts. In the early 1980s, Weld engaged in a highly publicized investigation into the administration of Kevin White, then mayor of Boston.

Political career

Weld's record as U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts

In 1981, William Weld was recommended to President Reagan by Rudolph W. Giuliani, then Associate U.S. Attorney General, for appointment as the U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts. During Weld’s tenure, the Attorney General’s office prosecuted some of New England’s largest banks in cases involving money laundering and other white-collar crimes. In 1985, the Boston Globe said Weld “has been by far the most visible figure in the prosecution of financial institutions.”

Weld gained national recognition in fighting public corruption: he won 109 convictions out of 111 cases.

In 1983, the Boston Globe stated: "The U.S. Attorney's office has not lost a single political corruption case since Weld took over, an achievement believed to be unparalleled in the various federal jurisdictions."

Promotion to Justice Department

In 1986, President Reagan promoted Weld to head of the Criminal Division of the Justice Department in Washington, where Weld oversaw 700 employees. Weld was responsible for supervising all federal prosecutions, including those investigated by the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration, as well as the work of the 93 U.S. Attorneys (who by then included Rudy Giuliani in Manhattan). During this time, Weld worked on some of the Reagan administration’s most significant prosecutions and investigations, including the capture of Panama’s Manuel Noriega on drug trafficking charges.

Weld's record as Governor of Massachusetts

William Weld became the first Republican Governor of Massachusetts since Francis W. Sargent left office in 1975. He was elected during a tumultuous time when the state's bond rating was near junk status, unemployment was nearly 10%, and the state had continuously borrowed money to close large operating deficits.

During his governorship, Weld ended the state's borrowing, controlled Medicaid spending, reduced property taxes and balanced seven budgets in a row (in a state where a balanced budget is constitutionally mandated but haphazardly enforced) while passing 19 tax cuts and never raising taxes. The business community reacted strongly to Weld's leadership. In a 1994 survey of chief executives conducted by the Massachusetts High Technology Council, 83% of those polled rated the state's business climate as good or excellent--up from only 33% at the beginning of his term. Proponents might claim that Weld's leadership changed the minds of 50% of the CEO's surveyed while others would note the national economic trends or other factors might play a part. Weld also reaped the benefits of the 1990s prosperity, as the state's unemployment rate fell by more than 3 percentage points during his first term, from 9.6% in 1991 to 6.4% in 1994.

Other accomplishments touted by Weld's supporters include:

  • Reforming Medicaid to control its annual rate of growth from an average of 17.4% per year between 1987 and 1991, to 3.8% between 1991 and 1997.
  • Overhauling the antiquated workers' compensation system, and significantly reduced the size of state government. When Weld left office in 1997, it took 15,000 fewer state employees to run the government's operations than it had in 1988.

In 1994, Weld won reelection with an impressive 71% of the vote--the most one-sided gubernatorial contest in Massachusetts history. Weld's 71–28 win over Democrat Mark Roosevelt beat Michael Dukakis's 69–31 trouncing of Republican George Kariotis in 1986, and broke the previous record, set in 1872, when Republican incumbent William Washburn beat Democrat Francis Bird 69–30. Weld carried all but five towns in the whole state, even carrying Boston.

In 1996, Weld supported the appointment of William Bulger as president of the University of Massachusetts. That same year Weld ran for the United States Senate against Democratic incumbent John Kerry. He was the first reasonably well-funded Republican Senate candidate in Massachusetts since Edward Brooke was unseated in 1978. The race was covered nationwide as one of the most closely-watched Senate races that year. Kerry and Weld held several debates and negotiated a campaign spending cap of $6.9 million at Kerry's Beacon Hill mansion. In the end, Senator Kerry won re-election with 53 percent to Weld's 45 percent--to date, the last seriously contested Senate race in the state.

Later career

Weld resigned the governorship after being nominated United States Ambassador to Mexico by President Bill Clinton. He was never confirmed by the United States Senate, however, and hence never served as Ambassador. This was due mainly to opposition from Senate Foreign Relations committee chairman Jesse Helms, who refused to hold a hearing on the nomination, effectively blocking it. Though both were Republicans and though that party held the majority in the chamber, Helms objected to Weld's moderate stance on several social issues. This refusal to hold hearings was also rumored to be at the request of former attorney general and friend of Helms, Ed Meese. Meese had a long standing grudge against Weld stemming from Weld's investigation of Meese during the Iran-Contra affair.

Until recently, Weld ran the Manhattan office of Chicago based international law firm McDermott Will & Emery. He has also worked for the New York Private Equity firm Leeds Weld, and Co. until his exit in 2005, when the company's name was changed to Leeds Equity Partners.

Weld has also flirted with the arts. He writes thriller novels for the mass market, and has done a little acting.

During the re-election campaign of President George W. Bush, who was running against Weld's old foe John Kerry, Weld helped Bush to prepare for the debates.

William Weld was seen taking the New York State Bar examination at the Jacob Javits Convention Center on February 27 and 28, 2007. His name appeared on the pass list for the February 2007 New York State Bar Examination. Weld was admitted to practice law in the State of New York in 2008.

Candidacy for Governor of New York

Despite having served as Governor of Massachusetts, Weld has lived in New York since 2000. On April 24, 2005, it was reported that he was in talks with the New York Republicans to run for Governor of New York in 2006, against likely Democratic nominee Eliot Spitzer. Incumbent GOP Governor George Pataki announced on July 27 that he would not seek a fourth term. On August 19, 2005, Weld officially announced his candidacy for Governor of New York, seeking to become the second person after Sam Houston to serve as Governor of two different U.S. states. His main opponent in the GOP race was former Assembly Minority Leader John Faso. Early in the campaign, former New York Secretary of State Randy Daniels and Assemblyman Patrick Manning also waged campaigns for the governorship.

In December 2005, Weld received the backing of the Republican county chairs of New York State during a county chairs meeting. Several chairs of large counties abstained from voting or did not attend the meeting, which lead to talk that Weld was not as popular as thought. During his early campaign, Weld was publicly endorsed by Republican State Chairman Stephen J. Minarik and was rumored to be backed by Pataki. Despite reports of a possible public endorsement by Pataki, no endorsement was made.

On April 29, 2006, Weld received the Libertarian Party's nomination.[4]

On May 31, 2006, Weld started the Republican State Convention by announcing his choice of New York Secretary of State Christopher Jacobs of Buffalo as his running mate for lieutenant governor. In the following days, Weld received some criticism for his choice of Secretary Jacobs, because Jacobs had donated $250 to the gubernatorial campaign of Attorney General Eliot Spitzer in 2004. Weld said he choose Jacobs, a member of the Buffalo Board of Education, because of Jacobs' work on education reform and upstate economic development issues. Secretary Jacobs has been an advocate of charter schools and for the revitalization of the upstate economy. Weld also said he choose Secretary Jacobs because he was an "Albany outsider" and could bring this perspective to state government. When he was selected by Weld, Jacobs had only served for six weeks as secretary of state in Pataki's Cabinet.

On June 1, 2006, the Republican State Convention voted 61% to 39% to endorse Faso. On June 5, Stephen J. Minarik, the chairman of the state Republican Party, who had been Weld's most prominent backer, called on Weld to withdraw in the interest of party unity.[5] Weld formally announced his withdrawal from the race the following day, and returned to private life.

Spitzer would go on to defeat Faso by the largest margin in New York gubernatorial history, winning 70-28[6].

2008 Presidential Election

Weld publicly endorsed Mitt Romney for the presidency on January 8, 2007. Weld served as the co-chairman for Romney's campaign in New York State.[7] On the same day that Weld endorsed Romney, Gov. and Mrs. Weld also raised $50,000 for Romney's exploratory committee. Weld personally made a donation of $2,100 dollars, the maximum allowed per person per election at the time. He later donated another $200 dollars (the new maximum allowed was $2,300).

Weld was also active in campaigning for Governor Romney in New Hampshire where both Governors have been known to travel together.

During a press conference on October 24, 2008 in Salem, New Hampshire, he endorsed then Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.[8]


Weld's first wife, Susan Roosevelt Weld, formerly a professor at Harvard University specializing in ancient Chinese civilization and law, and then General Counsel to the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, is a great granddaughter of Theodore Roosevelt. They married in 1976, had five children (David, Ethel, Mary, Quentin, and Frances), and divorced in 2002. His second and present wife, the writer and novelist Leslie Marshall, is a former daughter-in-law of Ben Bradlee of The Washington Post. George Herbert Walker, Jr., uncle of President George H. W. Bush, in the 1970s sold his brokerage company G.H. Walker & Co. to White, Weld & Co. and became a director of the latter company before its merger with Merrill Lynch in 1978.

Weld was a principal at Leeds Weld & Co., which describes itself as the United States's largest private equity fund focused on investing in the education and training industry. Its board of advisors is chaired by Rudolph W. Giuliani.

Weld co-chaired the Independent Task Force on North America under the Council on Foreign Relations, which studied the integration of the USA, Canada, and Mexico.


  • "I happen to think that individual freedom should extend to a woman's right to choose. I want the government out of your pocket book and your bedroom."[9]
  • "There’s no one so brave and wise as the politician who’s not running for office and who’s not going to be…"[10]
  • "I suggest to you that increasing the size of America's economic pie - which can be achieved only if everybody has a seat at the table - is the most important challenge facing our country today."
  • "The best social program is a good job."
  • "Government has a role as well in what is referred to as redistributive justice. "
  • "Government is never so noble as when it is addressing wrongs. "
  • "I dare say that a majority of the American people think that having a fair hearing on an issue of importance in our relations with Mexico is extremely important to our national interest, as well as theirs."
  • "I don't understand the Democrats' approach to Social Security in this country, and I'm not alone. "
  • "My slogan when I ran was that there is no such thing as government money, there is only taxpayers' money...."
  • "Opposing the free flow of goods or people is a bad idea."
  • "There's an alliance in the environmental area, and an appropriate one, between the government and the little guy."
  • "I think coercive taxation is theft, and government has a moral duty to keep it to a minimum."
  • "We absolutely have to restrain concentrations of wealth in industry from spoiling the situation for everybody."
  • "The system that had grown up in most states is that wealthy districts with an affluent population can afford to spend a lot more on their public school systems than the poorer districts."
  • "Natural resources are so vast that no single individual or business is going to protect them; they don't have an incentive to."
  • "In health care, education, and to some extent transportation—but less so, I think—government monopolies have proved to be a disaster. "
  • "Much is forgiven anyone who relieves the desperate boredom of the working press."
  • "I believe the government should stay out of your wallet, and out of your bedroom" which drew a mix of applause and boos at the 1992 Republican National Convention.

Books authored

Weld has written three novels for the mass market:

  1. Stillwater ISBN 0-15-602723-2
  2. Mackerel By Moonlight ISBN 0-671-03874-5
  3. Big Ugly ISBN 0-7434-1037-8

Electoral history


  1. ^ Weld resigned when President Clinton nominated him to be Ambassador to Mexico. The nomination ultimately failed.1
  2. ^ McDermott - Biographies - William F. Weld
  3. ^ While there was no Weld among the names of the 26 male Mayflower passengers currently known to have descendants, genealogists such as Gary Boyd Roberts of New England Historic Genealogical Society have pointed out that tens of millions of Americans (approximately one in seven) has at least one ancestor who was among this group of early settlers. William Weld, whose family has been in Massachusetts since the 17th century, has several Mayflower ancestors from whom he is descended through multiple lines (making Billy Bulger's statement very accurate).
  4. ^ Hammer of Truth
  5. ^ PATRICK HEALY (June 5, 2006). "G.O.P. Chief in N.Y. Urges Weld to Quit Governor's Race". New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/05/nyregion/05cnd-gov.html?hp&ex=1149566400&en=0743a7fd44898ee5&ei=5094&partner=homepage. Retrieved 2008-08-05.  
  6. ^ http://www.usatoday.com/news/politicselections/vote2006/NY/2006-11-07-governor-spitzer-faso_x.htm
  7. ^ Weld backs Romney for Oval Office - The Boston Globe
  8. ^ Ramer, Holly (2008-10-25). "Republican former Mass. governor endorses Obama". Associated Press. http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5jH5hJZpqsw9f2rel0QANnhN6c96gD9414O601. Retrieved 2008-10-25.  
  9. ^ BBC Documentary - The Power of Nightmares - Part 2 - The Phantom Victory - 00:36:25
  10. ^ [1] citing Council on Foreign Relations event entitled, "New York State And The Global Financial Crisis" on February 2, 2009

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Michael Dukakis
Governor of Massachusetts
January 3, 1991 – July 29, 1997
Succeeded by
Paul Cellucci
(as Acting Governor)
Party political offices
Preceded by
George Kariotis
Massachusetts Republican Party gubernatorial candidate
1990, 1994
Succeeded by
Paul Cellucci
Preceded by
Jim Rappaport
Republican nominee for United States Senator from Massachusetts
(Class 2)

No 2002 nominee
Title next held by
Jeff Beatty

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