Purchasing Power: Money, Politics, and Inequality

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Conference Participants and Guest Speakers

The Honorable Chris Murphy, Opening Address

Senator Christopher S. Murphy is the junior United States Senator for Connecticut. Elected in 2012, Murphy serves on the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, the Foreign Relations Committee, and the Joint Economic Committee. Prior to his election to the U.S. Senate, Murphy served Connecticut’s Fifth Congressional District for three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives.  During his three terms, Murphy served on the Foreign Affairs Committee, the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, the Energy and Commerce Committee, and the Committee on Financial Services.

Lawrence Lessig, Keynote Address

Lawrence Lessig is the Roy L. Furman Professor of Law and Leadership at Harvard Law School, director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University, and founder of Rootstrikers, a network of activists leading the fight against government corruption. He has authored numerous books, including Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Our Congress—and a Plan to Stop It, Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace, Free Culture, and Remix.

Lessig serves on the Board of Creative Commons, AXA Research Fund and iCommons.org, and on the Advisory Boards of the Sunlight Foundation and the Better Future Project. 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. 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.

Panel Moderators:

Jacob S. Hacker, Ph.D. is the Director of the Institution for Social and Policy Studies, and Stanley B. Resor Professor of Political Science at Yale University. He is also Vice President of the National Academy of Social Insurance, a member of the Scholars Strategy Network steering committee, and a former Junior Fellow of the Harvard Society of Fellows. An expert on the politics of U.S. health and social policy, he is the author of Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class, written with Paul Pierson (2010, paperback 2011), The Great Risk Shift: The New Economic Insecurity and the Decline of the American Dream (2006, paperback 2008), The Divided Welfare State: The Battle over Public and Private Social Benefits in the United States (2002), and The Road to Nowhere: The Genesis of President Clinton’s Plan for Health Security (1997), co-winner of the Brownlow Book Award of the National Academy of Public Administration. He is also co-author, with Paul Pierson, of Off Center: The Republican Revolution and the Erosion of American Democracy (2005) and has edited three volumes—most recently, Shared Responsibility, Shared Risk: Government, Markets, and Social Policy in the Twenty-First Century, edited with Ann O’ Leary (2012).

Ezra Klein is a columnist and editor at the Washington Post, as well as a policy analyst for MSNBC and a contributor to Bloomberg. His work focuses on domestic and economic policymaking, as well as the political system that’s constantly screwing it up. He has been named blogger of the year by both ‘The Week’ magazine and the Sidney Hillman Foundation, as well as one of the 50 most powerful people in Washington by GQ.

Elspeth Revere is Vice President of Media, Culture, and Special Initiatives of the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, a program with a budget of $30 million this year.  Her responsibilities include support for media in a technologically changing environment; a changing set of special initiatives – currently work is underway on strengthening American democracy; arts and culture in Chicago; grants in response to special opportunities, and the Foundation’s program of institutional grants.  Prior to joining the Foundation in 1991, she was President of the Woodstock Institute, a nonprofit policy research organization working to increase private sector investment in low-income neighborhoods, Director of Program Development for the city of Chicago’s Department of Housing, and a Senior Planner in the Department of Development and Planning.  She has also worked on community development projects in Guatemala.


Nicholas Carnes is Assistant Professor of Public Policy at the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University and the Co-Director of the Research Triangle chapter of the Scholars Strategy Network. His research focuses on American politics, economic and social class inequality, political representation, legislative decision making, and urban politics. He is currently finishing a book called White-Collar Government that examines how the shortage of people from the working class in American legislatures skews the policy making process towards outcomes that are more in line with the upper class’s economic interests. He is also starting a large-scale investigation of the factors that discourage working-class citizens from holding public office and the programs that could help to address longstanding inequalities in the social class makeup of our political institutions.

Lee Drutman is a Senior Fellow at the Sunlight Foundation. He is also an adjunct professor of political science at Johns Hopkins University and the University of California. He holds a Ph.D. in political science from the University of California, Berkeley and a B.A. from Brown University. He has been quoted by NPR, ABC News, The Colbert Report, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Politico, The Hill, Roll Call, among many other news outlets. Drutman has also worked as a research fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution, a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute, an American Political Science Association fellow in the office of Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), and a staff writer at the Philadelphia Inquirer. His writing has been published in the Los Angeles Times, Slate, Politico, the American Prospect, and Pacific Standard.

Erika Franklin Fowler (Ph.D., University of Wisconsin – Madison) is Assistant Professor of Government at Wesleyan University where she directs the Wesleyan Media Project, which tracks and analyzes all political ads aired on broadcast television in real-time during elections. Fowler specializes in political communication - local media and campaign advertising in particular - and her work on local coverage of politics and policy has been published in political science, communication, law/policy, and medical journals.  Fowler serves on ABC News’ Election Night Decision Desk, and prior to arriving at Wesleyan spent two years as a Robert Wood Johnson Scholar in Health Policy Research at the University of Michigan.

Archon Fung is the Ford Foundation Professor of Democracy and Citizenship at the Harvard Kennedy School. His research examines the impacts of civic participation, public deliberation, and transparency upon governance. His books include Full Disclosure: The Perils and Promise of Transparency (Cambridge University Press, with Mary Graham and David Weil) and Empowered Participation: Reinventing Urban Democracy (Princeton University Press). Current projects examine democratic reform initiatives in regulation, public accountability, urban planning, and public services. He has authored five books, three edited collections, and over fifty articles appearing in journals including American Political Science Review, Public Administration Review, Political Theory, Journal of Political Philosophy, Politics and Society, Governance, Journal of Policy and Management, Environmental Management, American Behavioral Scientist, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, and Boston Review.

Sheila Krumholz is the Center for Responsive Politics’ executive director, serving as the organization’s chief administrator, the liaison to its board and major funders and its primary spokesperson. Sheila became executive director in 2006, having served for eight years as the Center’s research director, supervising data analysis for OpenSecrets.org and the Center’s clients. She first joined the Center in 1989, serving as assistant editor of the very first edition of Open Secrets, the Center’s flagship publication. In 2010, Fast Company magazine named Sheila to its “Most Influential Women in Technology” list. Sheila has a degree in international relations and political science from the University of Minnesota.

Michael J. Malbin is a co-founder and Executive Director of the Campaign Finance Institute, (CFI) as well as Professor of Political Science, University at Albany, SUNY.  CFI is an independent, nonpartisan research institute based in Washington DC.   Founded in 1999, the Institute has published extensively on money in politics in federal and state elections.  Malbin has written extensively about money and politics for more than three decades.  His books include The Election after Reform: Money, Politics and the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act and The Day after Reform: Sobering Campaign Finance Lessons from the American States.  Other recent publications are: Reform in an Age of Networked Campaigns: How to Foster Citizen Participation through Small Donors and Volunteers (CFI-AEI-Brookings); “Small Donors, Big Democracy: New York City’s Matching Funds as a Model for the Nation and States” (Election Law Journal, 2012) and Donor Diversity through Public Matching Funds (CFI & Brennan Center).  Current work includes a project on small and large donors, as well as independent spenders, across jurisdictions, legal regimes and levels of government.

David M. Primo is the Ani and Mark Gabrellian Professor and an associate professor of political science and business administration at the University of Rochester, where he serves as the Director of Graduate Studies in the Political Science Department.  He is an expert in American politics, campaign finance regulation, and fiscal policy, and his current research focuses on corporate strategy in political and other “nonmarket” environments.  Primo is the author of three books, including the award-winning Rules and Restraint: Government Spending and the Design of Institutions, and numerous professional journal articles.  His op-eds have been published in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and other national newspapers.  Primo has testified before Congress on the subject of constitutional budget rules, and his campaign finance research was cited by the U.S. Supreme Court in a 2011 case addressing the public funding of elections.  He is the recipient of a 2005 Goergen Award for Distinguished Achievement and Artistry in Undergraduate Education, as well as a 2005 Undergraduate Professor of the Year Award given by the University of Rochester Students’ Association.  Professor Primo joined the Rochester faculty in 2002 after receiving his Ph.D. from Stanford University.

Paul S. Ryan, Senior Counsel, joined the Campaign Legal Center in October 2004.  He has specialized in campaign finance, ethics, and election law for more than a decade and is former Political Reform Project Director at the Center for Governmental Studies (1999-2004) in Los Angeles.  Mr. Ryan litigates campaign finance issues before federal and state courts throughout the United States and has published extensively on the subject of election law in journals including the Stanford Law and Policy Review and the Harvard Journal on Legislation.

Mr. Ryan has testified as an expert on election law before Congress.  He regularly represents the Campaign Legal Center before the Federal Election Commission, testifies before state and municipal legislative bodies and ethics agencies, and lectures at universities around the nation.  Mr. Ryan also regularly provides consultation and assistance to elected officials, government agency staff and grassroots activists regarding campaign finance and other election policy development.  He has appeared as a campaign finance law expert on news programs of CNN, NBC, C-SPAN, NPR and other media outlets, and is quoted regularly by The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, Roll Call and other news publications.

Mr. Ryan is a graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law’s Program in Public Interest Law and Policy (2001) and the University of Montana (1998), and is admitted to practice law in the District of Columbia, the State of California, the Supreme Court of the United States, the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Reihan Salam is a non-fiction writer and policy analyst in New York.

Kay Lehman Schlozman teaches American politics at Boston College where she serves as J.Joseph Moakley Endowed Professor of Political Science.  Her research focuses on citizen political participation and organized interest activity in the United States.  Her most recent book, The Unheavenly Chorus: Unequal Political Voice and the Broken Promise of American Democracy (with Sidney Verba and Henry Brady),  published by Princeton University Press in 2012, won two PROSE Awards (for Government and Politics and Excellence in Social Sciences) awarded to scholarly books by the American Association of Publishers. 

Ian Simmons is Co-Founder and Principal of Blue Haven Initiative, a family office dedicated to deploying for-profit and non-profit capital to solve social problems, and President of Foundation for Civic Leadership.

For over a decade, Ian has conceived and catalyzed projects to improve democracy. Results of various projects featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, and The Washington Post, as well as on CBS, NBC, ABC, and CNN. For example, Ian was the silent partner in co-founding and seed-funding ActBlue, which makes it easier for citizens to create change. ActBlue has channeled over three million individual donations totaling more than $373 million to candidates across the United States. Ian enjoys making site visits to learn more from innovative businesses and outstanding non-profit initiatives around the world. Ian graduated with honors from Harvard College in 2000. He lives in New York City with his wife, Liesel.