American democracy is under enormous pressure with the unwritten norms central to our constitutional order threatened. Our politics has drifted toward polarization and brinkmanship over the years, but this condition has worsened exponentially since President Trump’s inauguration. Public officials have flouted loopholes in ethics rules, disregarded and even hidden government data and science, and attempted to interfere and influence law enforcement investigations. Systemic faults in American governance have been exposed.

In response, concrete implementable solutions are needed to restore trust in government, balance between the separate branches of government, and accountability to the people for whom public officials serve.

 
 
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To develop this agenda, the Brennan Center is launching the National Task Force on Rule of Law and Democracy, a nonpartisan initiative led by former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara and former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman.

Over the coming months, the Task Force will examine ways to:

  • Strengthen ethics and conflicts of interest laws;
  • Protect the independence of law enforcement and the courts;
  • Respect a free and independent press;
  • Ensure transparent and appropriate use of government research and data; and
  • Support the appointment of appropriate and qualified public officials

The Task Force intends to issue a bipartisan reform agenda to relieve the pressures currently threatening our democratic institutions. As its work proceeds, the Brennan Center will update this website with additional information and resources. Sign up for our newsletter for the latest updates. Donate here or reach out to Jennifer Weiss-Wolf. And for press requests, please reach out to Stephen Fee or Rebecca Autrey

TASK FORCE MEMBERS

*Membership in formation


 
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Preet Bharara, Co-Chair

Preet Bharara is an American lawyer who served as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York from 2009 to 2017. His office prosecuted cases involving terrorism, narcotics and arms trafficking, financial and healthcare fraud, cybercrime, public corruption, gang violence, organized crime, and civil rights violations. In 2012, Bharara was featured on TIME's “100 Most Influential People in the World." On April 1, 2017, Mr. Bharara joined the NYU School of Law faculty as a Distinguished Scholar in Residence. He is Executive Vice President at Some Spider Studios where he hosts a podcast, Stay Tuned, focused on questions of justice and fairness.
 


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Christine Todd Whitman,  Co-Chair

Christine Todd Whitman is president of the Whitman Strategy Group, a consulting firm specializing in environmental and energy issues. She served in the cabinet of President George W. Bush as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency from 2001 to 2003, and was the governor of New Jersey from 1994 to 2001. During her time in government, she gained bipartisan support and was widely praised for championing common-sense environmental improvements. Gov. Whitman is involved in numerous national non-profit organizations focused on legal and environmental causes, including the American Security Project and the O’Connor Judicial Selection Advisory Committee at the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System. She is a graduate of Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts.
 


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Amy Comstock Rick

Amy Comstock Rick is the President and CEO of the Food and Drug Law Institute, and was previously the CEO of the Parkinson’s Action Network. Prior to becoming a nonprofit and health leader, Ms. Rick served as the Director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics (2000-2003) and as an Associate Counsel to the President in the White House Counsel’s Office (1998-2000). She also served as a career attorney at the U.S. Department of Education, including as the Department’s Assistant General Counsel for Ethics. Ms. Rick has also served as President of the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research, and as a board member of Research!America, the National Health Council, and the American Brain Coalition. She received her bachelor’s from Bard College and J.D. from the University of Michigan.


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Christopher Edley, Jr.

Christopher Edley, Jr. is The Honorable William H. Orrick, Jr. Distinguished Professor at the U.C. Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall). He served as the school’s dean from 2004 to 2013, after 23 years as a Harvard Law professor. In addition to his academic career, he worked in White House policy and budget positions under Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. Prof. Edley held senior posts in five presidential campaigns, including senior policy adviser for Barack Obama, and he was a member of the 2001 Election Reform Commission co-chaired by Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, National Academy of Public Administration, Council of Foreign Relations, and has served on many panels for the National Research Council.


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Chuck Hagel

Chuck Hagel served as the 24th Secretary of Defense from 2013 to 2015. He is the only Vietnam veteran and enlisted combat veteran to serve as Secretary of Defense.  He represented the state of Nebraska in the U.S. Senate for two terms from 1997 to 2009. In the Senate, Secretary Hagel was a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations; Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs; and Intelligence Committees. Previously, Secretary Hagel was Co-Chairman of the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board, a Distinguished Professor at Georgetown University, Chairman of the Atlantic Council, Chairman of the United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration Advisory Committee, Co-Chairman of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund Corporate Council, President and CEO of the USO, and Deputy Administrator of the Veterans Administration.  He currently serves on the RAND Board of Trustees, PBS Board, Corsair Capital Advisory Board, Deutsche Bank North American Advisory Board, American Security Project Board, and is a Senior Advisor to Gallup. He is a graduate of the University of Nebraska at Omaha.


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David Iglesias

David Iglesias is Director of the Wheaton Center for Faith, Politics and Economics, as well as an Associate Professor of Politics and Law at Wheaton College. Previously, Prof. Iglesias served as a state, federal, and military prosecutor with a focus on national security and terrorism cases. He served as the Senate-confirmed U.S. Attorney for the District of New Mexico from 2001 to 2007. Prof. Iglesias was recalled to active duty U.S. Navy status between 2008 and 2013 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. He served as a team leader, senior prosecutor and spokesman with the U.S. Military Commissions, handling war crimes and terrorism cases. He retired from the U.S. Navy in 2014 as a Captain. He received his bachelor’s from Wheaton College and his J.D. from the University of New Mexico School of Law.


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Donald B. Verrilli, Jr. 

Donald B. Verrilli, Jr. is a partner at Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP, and the founder of its Washington, D.C. office. He served as Solicitor General of the United States from June 2011 to June 2016. During that time, he was responsible for representing the U.S. government in all appellate matters before the Supreme Court and in the courts of appeals, and was a legal advisor to President Barack Obama and the Attorney General. Earlier, he served as Deputy White House Counsel and as Associate Deputy Attorney General in the U.S. Department of Justice. He clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. and the Honorable J. Skelly Wright on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. He received his B.A. from Yale University and J.D. from Columbia Law School.


 
 
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Mike Castle

Mike Castle is a former two-term governor, nine-term member of Congress, lieutenant governor, deputy attorney general, and state senator of his home state of Delaware. Currently a partner at the law firm DLA Piper, Gov. Castle served on the Financial Services, Intelligence, and Education and Workforce Committees during his tenure in the U.S. House of Representatives, and also led a number of Congressional caucuses. Since leaving office in January 2011, he has been honored by the Delaware Chamber of Commerce and the University of Delaware, and politicians of both parties have heralded Gov. Castle as a bipartisan leader. At DLA Piper, he works on financial issues, international trade, legislative affairs, and healthcare. He is the Board Chair for Research!America. He received his B.A. from Hamilton College and his J.D. from Georgetown University.

In the News

USA Today: Trump abuses show we must turn traditions into laws: Bharara and Whitman
It’s not enough to fret. We're launching a bipartisan project to mend the gaps in our system and make sure our government is competent and trustworthy.

Vox: Preet Bharara’s latest mission is to turn presidential norms into law
It’s taking the lessons and transgressions noted on the part of this administration and preventing those things from happening again in the future.

The Hill: Trump critics launch democracy task force

Task force to battle the erosion of American values in politics and government, and undo the tone of anger and hate of current administration.

NJ Spotlight: Former NJ Gov Whitman to Chair National Task Force to Fix U.S. Democracy

Task force to battle the erosion of American values in politics and government, and undo the tone of anger and hate of current administration.