The State Innovation Exchange (SiX) was founded in late 2014 to promote the progressive agenda at the state level amid substantial losses for progressives in state legislative elections. A merger of several progressive organizations, including the American Legislative Issue Campaign Exchange (ALICE), the Progressive States Network (PSN) and its affiliated 501(c)(4), and the Center for State Innovation (CSI), SiX brings together powerful and deep-pocketed liberal interest groups and state lawmakers, coordinating strategy and communications.1
Given the policy accomplishments of the center-right American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), left-of-center activists have long expressed a desire for a state-focused group to counteract ALEC’s successes.2 SiX, billed as “a national resource and strategy center that supports state legislators in advancing and defending progressive policies across the country,” is the latest attempt at such an organization.3
With liberals relegated to minority status in most state legislative bodies, SiX is poised to play a leading role in opposing state-level free market policies.4 In California and other states still controlled by anti-free market forces, lawmakers looking to pass big government policies and their financial benefactors seek to move the political climate to the left by enacting SiX model legislation as law.
SiX develops progressive model legislation and seeks to advance it in state capitols around the country. SiX has outlined numerous policy areas on which it expects its legislators to take action.5 These topics reflect the priorities of its leadership and the larger Democratic Party—including opposition to educational choice, mandatory gun registration, support for higher energy prices, campaign finance restrictions, and more regulations on businesses.6
Virginia People’s PAC (VPP)
In 2021, SiX founder Nick Rathod launched the Virginia People’s PAC (VPP) with the stated goal of bringing more diversity to electoral campaigns in the state of Virginia. 7
The State Innovation Exchange hosts meetings where liberal lawmakers and wealthy donors meet to discuss policies and plans for the future. Speakers have included prominent Democratic politicians like House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senators Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker, and failed Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis.8
The organization receives funding from the Democracy Alliance, which bundles large contributions from wealthy donors including George Soros and Tom Steyer and distributes money to a multitude of left-of-center political groups.9
SiX’s Board of Directors is comprised of representatives from powerful left-wing organizations and constituencies.10
- Naomi Aberly is a Texas-based Democratic super-fundraiser and pro-abortion activist;
- Paul Booth serves as an AFSCME Executive Assistant and was a speaker at the 2016 Democratic National Convention;
- Raj Goyle, a former Kansas State Representative and failed Democratic Party congressional candidate;
- Mary Kusler is the Director of Government Relations for the powerful National Education Association;
- Andres Lopez, a well-connected Democratic fundraising power player and personal friend of President Barack Obama;
- Joel Rogers, a University of Wisconsin-Madison law professor and leftist author;
- Ken Sunshine, a controversial New York consultant whose public relations firm, Sunshine Sachs, has represented Hollywood celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio and Ben Affleck;
- Richard Trumka is president of the AFL-CIO, the largest federation of labor unions in the United States.
The Executive Director of SiX is Nick Rathod, a former Obama Administration official and longtime Democratic operative, who also served in political roles for U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts), disgraced New York Governor Eliot Spitzer (D), and helped lead Michael Bloomberg’s efforts to expand gun control.11
- Lange, Timothy. “The resistance: State Innovation Exchange provides a progressive economic blueprint for legislators.” Daily Kos. December 9, 2016. Accessed March 3, 2017. http://www.dailykos.com/story/2016/12/9/1609162/-The-resistance-State-Innovation-Exchange-provides-a-progressive-economic-blueprint-for-legislators.
- “Liberals Rediscover the States.” The Wall Street Journal, December 23, 2014. Accessed March 3, 2017. https://www.wsj.com/articles/liberals-target-the-states-1419375794.
- “About SiX.” About SiX. Accessed December 27, 2016. https://stateinnovation.org/about/.
- Nirappil, Fenit. “Here’s why equal pay activists are looking to Maryland.” The Washington Post, May 27, 2016. https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/md-politics/heres-why-equal-pay-activists-are-looking-toward-maryland/2016/05/27/9c82ce48-2134-11e6-8690-f14ca9de2972_story.html?utm_term=.a8617fe902c6.
- Library of Legislation. Accessed December 27, 2016. https://stateinnovation.org/resource/library.
- “Issues.” Issues-SiX. Accessed December 27, 2016. https://stateinnovation.org/issues/.
- Blue Virginia. “New ‘Virginia People’s PAC’ Launches, Promises to Bring Diversity to State Campaigns.” Blue Virginia, March 4, 2021. https://bluevirginia.us/2021/03/new-virginia-peoples-pac-launches-promises-to-bring-diversity-to-state-campaigns.
- Linsky, David. “Representative David Linsky to Attend 2016 SiX Conference in Washington, D.C.” Dover Patch, December 7, 2016. Accessed March 3, 2017. http://patch.com/massachusetts/dover/representative-david-linsky-attend-2016-six-conference-washington-d-c.
- Markay, Lachlan. “DA-portfolio.” April 2015. Accessed December 27, 2016. http://freebeacon.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/DA-portfolio.pdf.
- “Staff-SiX.” Board and Staff. Accessed December 27, 2016. https://stateinnovation.org/board-and-staff/.
- “Nick Rathod, Executive Director.” Board and Staff. Accessed December 27, 2016. https://stateinnovation.org/staff_member/nick-rathod/.