Equal Citizens FoundationBoard of Directors
President & CEO, DisruptDC
Charlie Kolb is a distinguished civic leader and public servant with experience in nonprofit leadership, public policy, crisis management, stakeholder engagement, team building, fundraising, and media relations.
After graduating Phi Beta Kappa from Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, earning an M.A. from Oxford, and completing a J.D. from University of Virginia, Charlie began a career in law that led him to clerk for the Honorable Judge Joseph H. Young. He joined the Reagan administration as assistant general counsel in the Office of Management and Budget, and then joined the Department of Education. He then returned to the White House as deputy assistant for domestic policy with the George H.W. Bush administration.
As general counsel at United Way, he helped restore a culture of integrity in a time of organizational crisis. He then served as president of the Committee for Economic Development for 15 years, spearheading research and policy initiatives in healthcare, education, labor, international trade, legal reform, and campaign finance. His work to engage the business community was deemed essential to the passage of the Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act of 2002 (McCain-Feingold).
After CED, he served as president of the French-American Foundation and then Partners 4 Affordable Excellence. He is currently the President and CEO of DisruptDC, a business group for government reform.
President, Lake Research Partners
Celinda Lake is a prominent pollster and political strategist for progressives. She currently serves as President of Lake Research Partners. Lake’s polling and strategic advice has helped candidates such as Jon Tester, Senator Debbie Stabenow and Governor Bob Wise defeat incumbent Republicans and her expertise guided Senator Mark Begich to victory, making him the first Senate candidate in Alaska to oust the incumbent in 50 years.
She has focused on women candidates and women’s concerns, having worked for Speaker Pelosi, Governor Janet Napolitano, Senator Debbie Stabenow, Senator Barbara Mikulski, Mayor Carolyn Goodman, Mayor Annise Parker, and has helped to elect over a dozen women to the House and Senate.
Celinda worked for the largest independent expenditure to take back the House and has been a key player in campaigns launched by progressive groups such as the AFL-CIO, SEIU, Sierra Club, Planned Parenthood, Vote Vets, HRC, and EMILY’s List.
Lake co-authored the book What Women Really Want with Republican pollster Kellyanne Conway, which examines the way women are changing the political landscape in America, and she also served as pollster for Senator Joe Biden’s 2008 presidential bid.
She has worked on innovative message projects that helped redefine language on the economy, inequality, big money in politics, climate change, public schools, teachers, and criminal justice reform. Celinda is the recipient of an American Political Consultant Award and the Opportunity Agenda Creative Change Award.
Professor, Harvard Law School
Lawrence Lessig is the Roy L. Furman Professor of Law and Leadership at Harvard Law School.
Prior to rejoining the Harvard faculty, Lessig was a professor at Stanford Law School, where he founded the school’s Center for Internet and Society, and at the University of Chicago.
He clerked for Judge Richard Posner on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals and Justice Antonin Scalia on the United States Supreme Court. Lessig serves on the Board of the AXA Research Fund, and on the advisory boards of Creative Commons and the Sunlight Foundation.
He is a Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Association, and has received numerous awards, including the Free Software Foundation’s Freedom Award, Fastcase 50 Award and being named one of Scientific American’s Top 50 Visionaries.
Lessig holds a BA in economics and a BS in management from the University of Pennsylvania, an MA in philosophy from Cambridge, and a JD from Yale.
Professor of Law, University of Minnesota
Richard Painter is the S. Walter Richey Professor of Corporate Law at University of Minnesota.
From February 2005 to July 2007, he was associate counsel to the president in the White House Counsel’s office, serving as the chief ethics lawyer for the president, White House employees, and senior nominees to Senate-confirmed positions in the executive branch. He is a member of the American Law Institute and is a reporter for the new ALI Principles of Government Ethics. He has also been active in the Professional Responsibility Section of the American Bar Association. He is a board member and vice chair of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington as well as a founding board member of Take Back our Republic, a campaign finance reform organization.
Painter has also been active in law reform efforts aimed at deterring securities fraud and improving ethics of corporate managers and lawyers. A key provision of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, requiring the SEC to issue rules of professional responsibility for securities lawyers, was based on earlier proposals Painter made in law review articles and to the ABA and the SEC. He has given dozens of lectures on the Sarbanes-Oxley Act to law schools, bar associations, and learned societies, such as the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Professor Painter has on six occasions provided invited testimony before committees of the U.S. House of Representatives or the U.S. Senate on government ethics, securities litigation, and/or the role of attorneys in corporate governance.
Painter received his B.A., summa cum laude, in history from Harvard University and his J.D. from Yale University, where he was an editor of the Yale Journal on Regulation. Following law school, he clerked for Judge John T. Noonan Jr. of the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit and later practiced at Sullivan & Cromwell in New York City and Finn Dixon & Herling in Stamford, Conn.
Professor, University of California at Berkeley
He served as Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, for which Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century.
He has written fourteen books, including the best sellers “Aftershock”, “The Work of Nations,” and”Beyond Outrage,” and, his most recent, “Saving Capitalism.”
He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, chairman of Common Cause, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and co-creator of the award-winning documentary, “Inequality For All.”
He received his B.A. from Dartmouth College, his M.A. from Oxford University where he was a Rhodes Scholar, and his J.D. from Yale Law School.
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Cambridge, MA - EqualCitizens.US today announced that it is supporting an initiative in Maine to limit contributions to independent political action committees — so called, “SuperPACs.” A signature drive to get the initiative on the November 2024 ballot has begun. Within three weeks, enough signatures to qualify will have been collected.
“Almost 80% of Maine citizens support this initiative to end SuperPACs,” Harvard Law Professor and founder of EqualCitizens.US declared. “And I am confident that when the United States Supreme Court finally gets the chance to rule on the question, it will uphold Maine’s law, and thereby change the law governing SuperPACs across the nation.”
Lessig’s prediction is based on an argument developed by Harvard Law Professor (emeritus) Larry Tribe and Chicago Law Professor (emeritus) and Maine resident, Al Alschuler. That argument has identified a core flaw in the lower court case that established SuperPACs. Once that error is corrected, Lessig believes it is “certain” that existing Supreme Court doctrine supports permitting limits on contributions to independent political action committees.
“SuperPACs have been with us for more than 13 years,” Lessig said. “So it is understandable that most lawyers believe the Supreme Court has upheld them. It has not. Likewise, it is understandable that many political organizations, including reform organizations on the Left and Right, have become dependent on the super-wealthy to do their work. Some of them now support SuperPACs, as do many of the most wealthy in America who use SuperPACs to influence American politics.”
“But we know,” Lessig declared, “that the vast majority of Americans on both the Left and Right hate the corruption of big money in American politics. And we will do everything we can to give those citizens the chance to get their democracy back.”
Data provided by OpenSecrets.org demonstrates that among itemized contributions to SuperPACs since 2010, 70% come from contributors giving $1 million or more; 90% come from contributors giving $100,000 or more.
The initiative in Maine is sponsored by the Ballot Question Committee “Citizens to End SuperPACs.” The committee is chaired by Maine citizen Cara McCormick, who was instrumental in the initiative establishing ranked choice voting in Maine. If the legislature does not enact the initiative once signatures are gathered, Citizens to End SuperPACs will conduct a campaign next fall to pass the initiative in November 2024. “We expect big money will do whatever it can to preserve its power,” McCormick said. “But we’re confident that when 80% of Maine citizens support something, even big money can’t stop it.”
EqualCitizens.US has been supported in its effort by the very people who would otherwise leverage SuperPACs for their own political gain. “So far,” Lessig revealed, “we’ve found support among business people and investors who are keen to spend their money to reduce the power of money in American politics.” “I’ve been in this fight since the beginning,” Lessig declared. “I can report that a decade ago, there were more among the most wealthy who were keen to end the power of money over our government. Today, it seems there are fewer who are still committed to restoring a democracy where citizens matter regardless of their wealth. But we’re confident that there will be enough support among all Americans to pass this initiative and end SuperPACs in America.”
EqualCitizens.US has also launched a video competition with a $50,000 prize, for the best video demonstrating the error in the lower court case that birthed SuperPACs. The competition was launched in September with support by Andrew Yang and Jason Alexander, and has garnered interest among thousands of video creators. Entries are due on Election Day 2023. A panel of judges — including Alexander and Yang, as well as Harvard Law Professor Guy Charles, social innovator Eli Pariser, and Fordham Professor Zephyr Teachout — will pick the winning entry by the end of the year.
“This will be a multi-year battle,” Lessig advised. “But once Mainers pass this initiative, if the courts move quickly, then by July 2026 — the 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence — the Supreme Court could declare America free of SuperPACs. And a government ‘dependent on the people alone,’ as James Madison promised, where by ‘the people,’ he explained he meant ‘not the rich more than the poor,’ could again be possible for America’s democracy.”
For more information about the contest, visit the campaign website: CancelSuperPACs.com
EqualCitizens.US is a non-profit, founded by Lessig, that is committed to achieving political equality within the United States. More information on the case can be found at www.equalcitizens.us/equal-electors