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What is Protect Democracy?

Protect Democracy is a nonpartisan nonprofit with an urgent mission: to prevent our democracy from declining into a more authoritarian form of government. We do this by holding the President and the Executive Branch accountable to the laws and longstanding practices that have protected our democracy through both Democratic and Republican Administrations. We have seen an unprecedented tide of authoritarian-style politics sweep the country that is fundamentally at odds with the Bill of Rights, the constitutional limitations on the role of the President, and the laws and unwritten norms that prevent overreach and abuse of power. The only limits to prevent a slide away from our democratic traditions will be those that are imposed by the Courts, Congress, and the American people.

Who Are We?
Protect Democracy was conceived by a group of former White House and Administration lawyers and experienced constitutional litigators, all with a deep understanding of how the federal government works. As we were the ones tasked with implementing and enforcing the norms that have constrained presidential power for decades, we know what those guardrails are and when those in power may be tempted to violate them. As we defended past presidents against legitimate oversight and illegitimate attacks, we also know how to leverage tools outside government to prevent the exploitation of power within it. One thing that we know about those tools, however, is they require an engaged public—they require all of us to unite to make them effective.

What Does Protect Democracy Do?
We monitor, investigate, report on, organize and litigate against any action taken by the Executive Branch that could erode the rules, practices and freedoms that underpin our ability as a self-governing people to hold our leaders accountable. In short, we unite with Americans from all backgrounds to use every tool at our disposal to protect our democracy.

The Protect Democracy Project* is a 501(c)(3), United to Protect Democracy^ is a 501(c)(4). Learn more about the difference.

Meet the team

Ian Bassin

Board Member and Executive Director

Ian served as Associate White House Counsel to President Obama from 2009-2011. In addition to counseling the President and senior White House staff on administrative and constitutional law, his responsibilities included ensuring that White House and executive branch officials complied with the laws, rules and norms that protect the fundamentally democratic nature of our government. He received his J.D. from Yale Law School, where he was an Editor of the Yale Law Journal and President of the American Constitution Society. *^

Justin Florence

Board Member and Legal Director

Justin most recently served as counsel in Ropes & Gray’s business & securities litigation practice group, where his practice focused on appellate and Supreme Court matters. He has represented clients in the Supreme Court and federal courts of appeals, as well as at the trial level. He has previously served in the Office of the White House Counsel as Special Assistant to the President and Associate Counsel to the President. Justin also worked for Senator Sheldon Whitehouse as Senior Counsel on the staff of the Senate Judiciary Committee. ^

Ben Berwick

Counsel

Before joining Protect Democracy, he worked for 6.5 years in the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) – spending most of the time as a Trial Attorney with the Civil Division, Federal Programs Branch. In that capacity, Ben defended against challenges to federal statutes and actions of the Executive Branch. He litigated cases involving a variety of statutes and agencies, including as the lead attorney in cases challenging the Department of Education’s and DOJ’s interpretation of Title IX as prohibiting discrimination against transgender students.

Allison F. Murphy

Counsel

Allison has spent more than a decade in public service focused on investigative and strategic legal efforts, including at the White House, a federal agency, the Senate, and House of Representatives. Most recently, Allison led complex market manipulation and fraud investigations in the energy markets at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. In 2015, she served in the White House Counsel’s Office where she advised on a range of matters within an economic portfolio.

Larry Schwartztol

Counsel

Before joining Protect Democracy, Larry was Executive Director of the Criminal Justice Policy Program at Harvard Law School, a research and advocacy center focused on criminal justice reform. Larry spent nearly eight years as an attorney with the ACLU, where he litigated cases involving race discrimination, economic justice, police practices, educational equity, and a wide array of national security issues. Before that, Larry was a Liman Fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice and a law clerk to Judge Harry T. Edwards U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

Anne Tindall

Counsel

Anne most recently served as Assistant General Counsel for Litigation and Oversight at the United States Consumer Financial Protection Bureau where, for the last four years, she has led the oversight team at the agency created by President Obama and Elizabeth Warren in the fallout of the financial crisis to protect American families and consumers from unfair financial practices.

Jesse Lee

Communications Director

Jesse most recently was Special Assistant to President Obama and Director of Rapid Response in the White House, and served in the White House for all eight years of the Obama Administration.

Beau Wright

Director of Operations

Beau previously served in President Obama’s White House for 5.5 years, most recently as Senior Deputy Director of Operations and Director for Finance.

Cameron Bills

Paralegal

Cameron recently graduated from Columbia University with a background in education and criminal justice.

Sonya Petri

Paralegal

Sonya has over a decade of experience working in criminal defense and justice policy, most recently as a paralegal with the Federal Public Defender Office in Boston. She has contributed to local, national, and international research projects with the Harvard Kennedy School and earned her graduate degree from the London School of Economics.

Jeff Berman

Board Member

Jeff is currently President of Whalerock Industries, a media and technology company in Los Angeles. He previously served as General Manager for Digital Media at the National Football League and before that held a series of roles at MySpace, culminating as President of Sales and Marketing. From 2001 to 2005, he served as Chief Counsel to U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer. Jeff has also served as a public defender in the District of Columbia and as an Adjunct Professor at the Georgetown University Law Center. He holds a J.D. from Yale Law School and a B.A. from Connecticut College. ^

Jerry Hauser

Board Member

Jerry is the founding Chief Executive Officer of The Management ​Action​ Center. He was previously at McKinsey & Company, and has played leadership roles in a number of nonprofits. At Teach For America, he served as the second-in-command for seven years. He also served as the CEO of the Advocacy Institute. Before graduating from Yale Law School, where he was active in legal clinics and a senior editor of the Yale Law Journal, Jerry worked as a high school math and history teacher in Compton, California. He is the coauthor of the book Managing to Change the World. ^

Emily Loeb

Board Member

Emily helped found Protect Democracy, and serves full time as Special Counsel at the law firm Jenner & Block. She brings an extensive background in federal oversight and internal investigations. Previously, she served as an Associate Counsel in the Office of the White House Counsel, where she advised senior White House and Executive Branch Agency officials on responses to congressional and other investigations, risk management issues, and high priority litigation. Before the White House, Emily served in several senior roles in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. *^

Cecilia Muñoz

Board Member

Cecilia is currently Vice President for Policy and Technology at New America, a Washington-based think tank. She served as Assistant to the President and Director of the Domestic Policy Council under President Obama, and earlier as Director of Intergovernmental Affairs where she oversaw the Obama Administration’s relationships with state and local governments. Before joining the Obama Administration, Cecilia spent 20 years at the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the nation’s largest Latino civil rights organization. In June 2000, she was awarded a MacArthur Foundation fellowship in recognition of her work on immigration and civil rights. She also serves on the Board of the Kresge Foundation and the US Programs Board of the Open Society Foundations. *

Sabeel Rahman

Board Member

Sabeel teaches administrative law and constitutional law at Brooklyn Law School. His research focuses on questions of economic inequality, economic power, and democratic governance. His first book, Democracy Against Domination (Oxford University Press, 2017) examines these issues in context of the financial regulation debate. In addition to his scholarly work, Sabeel served as a Special Advisor in New York City Hall in 2014-15, advising on economic development strategy and policy, and as the Design Director for the Gettysburg Project on Civic Engagement. *

Ricki Seidman

Board Member

Ricki is senior principal at TSD Communications, counseling corporate and non-profit clients on a wide range of communications and general strategy matters. A veteran of public service, she held several senior White House positions during the Clinton Administration, also serving as Deputy Associate Attorney General in the Department of Justice. In 2009, she assisted the White House in the confirmation of President Obama’s first nominee to the Supreme Court, Sonia Sotomayor. Over the course of her career, Ricki also worked for the late Senator Edward Kennedy and was Executive Director of Rock the Vote. *

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