Siegel, Mark

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SIEGEL, MARK (1946– ), Democratic Party activist and White House official. Born in Brooklyn and a product of its public schools, Siegel is a graduate of Brooklyn College (1967). He holds a master's degree (1968) and doctorate in political science (1972) from Northwestern University, where he specialized in American political behavior, elections, and the U.S. Congress. His dissertation was on the delegate selection process within the Democratic Party: "Toward a More Responsible Two Party System: The Politics of Reform." He was on the adjunct political science faculties of American University and George Washington University's Graduate School of Political Management, where he also directed the University's Semester in Washington program.

Siegel served as legislative assistant for domestic policy to Senator Hubert H. Humphrey (1971–72). He was executive director of the Democratic National Committee under the chairmanship of Robert S. Strauss, the first Jewish chairman of a major American political party (1973–77). Siegel became deputy assistant to President Jimmy Carter in January 1977, where he served as the liaison to the American Jewish community. During that tenure he was the first to propose a national memorial to the Holocaust that led to the creation of the President's Commission on the Holocaust, and the Holocaust Memorial Museum 15 years later on the Mall in Washington.

In 1978 Siegel became the first – and to date the only – Jewish White House official to resign from the inner circle of the president in protest over the Carter Administration's plan to sell f15 jet fighters to Saudi Arabia. Later that year in Jerusalem, Prime Minister Begin presented Siegel with the Jonathan Netanyahu award for civil courage.

For more than 20 years after leaving the White House, Siegel served as president of Mark A. Siegel and Associates, Inc., and International Public Strategies, Inc., lobbying firms dealing with domestic and international representation. After the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, he re-entered government as chief of staff to Congressman Steve Israel of New York, a member of the Arms Services Committee of the House of Representatives.

He has served as speechwriter to a long list of public officials including senators Humphrey, Bill Bradley, and Ted Kennedy, Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto of Pakistan, Prime Minister Henny Eman of Aruba, President Nursultan Nazarbaev of Kazakhstan, President Jimmy Carter, Vice President Walter Mondale, and Vice President Al Gore. Siegel served on the Board of the National Democratic Institute of International Affairs for 15 years, where he oversaw the Institute's party development and election monitoring in Asia. In 2000, Siegel served as the on-air consultant on the electoral college to the Today show during the presidential recount crisis.

He served as the vice president for government affairs of New Century Financial Corporation. Siegel is married to Judith Siegel, deputy assistant secretary of state for public diplomacy.

[Michael Berenbaum (2nd ed.)]