Person

Blair Bowie

Nationality:

American

Occupation:

Left-of-center lawyer and activist

Blair Bowie is a lawyer and career left-of-center activist. She works for the Campaign Legal Center, which promotes campaign finance laws and electoral district boundary-drawing that favors left-of-center politicians. Previously, Bowie worked at Free Speech for People, another campaign finance advocacy group, as well as the environmentalist organization EarthJustice and the League of Conservation Voters, an anti-fossil fuel and anti-nuclear energy pressure group. Bowie was also a registered lobbyist for the United States Public Interest Research Group (US PIRG), an advocacy organization that oversees a network of state-level left-of-center pressure groups that aim to turn state-level left-of-center policy into federal law and repurpose failed federal initiatives at the state level. [1]

Political Views

Blair Bowie has been a vocal proponent of expanding the right to vote for convicted felons. She supported efforts to expand the First Step Act, a law supported by the Trump administration that led to resentencing of many persons with drug convictions. She wrote that “regaining the right to vote is a critical step” to help released felons “feel[ing] like full citizens,” and criticized state laws related to felons’ voting rights because laws differ between states and, in states like Mississippi, between federal and state convictions. [2]

Bowie endorsed H.R. 1, a 2021 bill that would give the federal government greater control over administration of the election process at the state and local level. Campaign Legal Center endorsed a modified version of the bill later in 2021, arguing that it would improve voting rights, reduce partisan gerrymandering, and improve transparency related to money in politics. [3] The original bill was criticized by the Heritage Foundation, a leading right-of-center think tank, because it would force to implement early voting, automatic voter registration, same-day registration, and unrestricted absentee ballots. Heritage also claimed that the legislation would compromise voter rolls by automatically registering individuals based on federal databases, without filtering out non-citizens. [4] [5]

In 2013, Bowie promoted a New York Times article that appeared to downplay the politically motivated targeting of right-of-center advocacy organizations by the Internal Revenue Service under the Obama administration. The article claimed that the affected groups “are most likely not innocent nonprofit organizations” and suggested, without providing examples, that they were “manipulating the tax code to hide their donors and evade taxes.” [6] [7] Bowie later co-authored a report on right-of-center groups described as “shady operators” who influenced the 2012 elections with “mystery money.” The report went on to criticize a number of groups by name, including the influential Americans for Prosperity, for allegedly working around laws such as those related to donation disclosure. [8]

Education and Early Career

Blair Bowie received a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Middlebury College and a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania. Bowie started her career in left-progressive advocacy in 2009 as a field organizer for Green Corps, an environmentalist group that specializes in training activists. Two years later, she joined US PIRG, where she reviewed potential campaign finance legal challenges for the organization to bring and wrote reports on political spending. In 2015, she worked as a law clerk with the League of Conservation Voters. The following year, she spent several months as a legal intern at the office of Rep. Brian Sims (D-PA), followed by brief stints at the Campaign Legal Center and EarthJustice. [9]

Recent Work

In 2016, Blair Bowie spent a year as an intern with Free Speech for People, where she helped prepare litigation to make changes in campaign finance laws. The following year, she returned to the Campaign Legal Center, starting out with a fellowship program and eventually moving up to the position of senior legal counsel. She also took over Restore Your Vote, a project to expand the ability of convicted felons to vote that she had helped found as part of her fellowship several years prior. [10]

References

  1. Blair Bowie. LinkedIn. Accessed March 12, 2021. https://www.linkedin.com/in/blair-bowie-32919017/ ^
  2. Blair Bowie. “First Step Act beneficiaries left wondering: Can I vote?” Fulcrum. August 7, 2019. Accessed March 12, 2022. https://thefulcrum.us/voting/first-step-act-felons-voting ^
  3. Corey Goldstone, “Freedom to Vote Act must be passed by Senate,” Campaign Legal Center. September 14, 2021. Accessed March 14, 2021. https://campaignlegal.org/update/freedom-vote-act-must-be-passed-senate ^
  4. “The Facts About H.R. 1: The ‘For the People Act of 2021.’” Heritage Foundation. February 21, 2021. Accessed March 12, 2021. https://www.heritage.org/election-integrity/report/the-facts-about-hr-1-the-the-people-act-2021 ^
  5. Blair Bowie. Twitter. Accessed March 12, 2021. https://twitter.com/BlairBowie ^
  6. Sheila Krumholz and Robert Weinberger. “The Real I.R.S. Scandal.” New York Times. May 15, 2013. Accessed March 12, 2022. https://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/16/opinion/the-real-irs-scandal.html ^
  7. Blair Bowie. Twitter. Accessed March 12, 2021. https://twitter.com/BlairBowie ^
  8. Brendan Fischer, Blair Bowie, “Elections Confidential,” US PIRG & Center for Media and Democracy. Accessed March 14, 2021. https://campaignlegal.org/update/freedom-vote-act-must-be-passed-senate ^
  9. Blair Bowie. LinkedIn. Accessed March 12, 2021. https://www.linkedin.com/in/blair-bowie-32919017/ ^
  10. Blair Bowie. LinkedIn. Accessed March 12, 2021. https://www.linkedin.com/in/blair-bowie-32919017/ ^
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