Key Information about DC’s Recent MacArthur Genius

Meet Ian Bassin: A Genius Grant Recipient and Democracy Advocate

Photo courtesy of John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

1. From Attorney to Democracy Advocate

Ian Bassin, a recipient of the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship in 2023, also known as the “Genius Grant,” has an impressive background as a lawyer and champion of democracy. After graduating from Wesleyan University in 1998 and Yale Law School in 2006, Bassin embarked on a career in public service.

He joined the policy team of the Obama campaign in 2007 and subsequently served as associate White House counsel during the first three years of the Obama administration. In this role, Bassin focused on upholding ethical standards and ensuring compliance with rules governing the executive branch.

Bassin’s experience working at the highest level of government provided him with valuable insights into the mechanisms that safeguard democracy and hold officials accountable. He later worked as deputy counsel to Bill de Blasio, the mayor of New York. Additionally, Bassin has collaborated with non-profit organizations like GiveDirectly and online activism community Avaaz, furthering his commitment to promoting democracy and civic engagement.

2. Co-founder of Protect Democracy

In 2016, Bassin co-founded Protect Democracy, a nonpartisan organization dedicated to defending democratic processes against authoritarian tactics. Recognizing that democracy is not an inherent guarantee in today’s world, Bassin and his fellow former White House lawyers established Protect Democracy as an active force in preserving and sustaining democratic principles.

At Protect Democracy, experts and advocates employ a diverse range of tools, including litigation, technology, research, and analysis. The organization comprises individuals from across the political spectrum, with conservatives, moderates, and progressives all working together towards a common goal.

Protect Democracy focuses on three key areas: ensuring free and fair elections, upholding the rule of law, and combating disinformation. In 2019, Bassin and his colleagues formed the National Task Force on Election Crises, which played a crucial role in advocating for reforms to the Electoral Count Act in 2022.

3. Involvement in the January 6 Response

Protect Democracy’s commitment to upholding democracy was evident in their response to the January 6 insurrection. The organization took several steps to promote accountability and resilience in the face of such attacks. They conducted thorough analyses of previous assaults on democracy and created a comprehensive guide to dealing with similar situations.

In addition, Protect Democracy represented several Capitol Police officers in their lawsuits against former President Donald Trump, seeking justice and accountability for the events of January 6. The MacArthur Foundation recognizes Bassin’s significant influence on the approach taken by the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Read More of this Story at – 2023-10-06 16:44:07

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