Kristen Lee, a former Democratic Congressional staffer, is a policy analyst at the left-leaning American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). She has authored material on behalf of ACLU on matters related to election administration and District of Columbia statehood.
Capitol Hill Career
Starting on March 9, 2015, Kristen Lee worked as a staff assistant in the office of U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI). On the first of the following month, Lee was promoted to the position of legislative assistant. Later, on the first of April 2016, Lee was promoted again, this time to the position of legislative aide. On the first of the April of the following year, in 2017, Lee was again promoted, this time, to the position of policy analyst, a role in which she worked until May 2018. 1
American Civil Liberties Union
In 2020, Kristen Lee joined the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) as a policy analyst in the organization’s national political advocacy department. 2 Generally, the policy objectives of the organization, which was founded in 1920 by labor activists, align with the ideological and political left. 3 4 The organization’s national political advocacy department, which is based in Washington, D.C., (though with a “large contingent of staff” in New York City), engages in direct political advocacy campaigns and consists of five issue-oriented divisions: justice, equality, democracy, liberty, and organizing. 5
On August 28, 2020, Kristen Lee, along with her ACLU colleagues Leila Rafei and Ihaab Syed, coauthored a piece of commentary on the organization’s blog, “100 Years and Counting: The Fight for Women’s Suffrage Continues,” arguing, among other things, that an increasing share of women are harmed due to felony disenfranchisement laws and that election integrity laws, which help confirm identities, often prove difficult for trans-identifying voters. 6
On March 22, 2021, Lee, along with the executive director of the ACLU’s national political advocacy department, Monica Hopkins, delivered supportive testimony to the United States House Committee on Oversight and Reform during a hearing on a bill that would establish statehood for Washington, D.C. During their statements, the pair cited how events like the COVID-19 pandemic, Black Lives Matter protests in the wake of the death of George Floyd, and the events of January 6, 2021, at the Capitol building “underscore” the urgent necessity of granting the District full statehood. 7
Following up on her advocacy in her March testimony to Congress, Lee coauthored a commentary piece on June 22, 2021, “D.C. Statehood is Constitutional. Robert Kennedy Never Said Otherwise.” for the ACLU blog with the organization’s senior staff attorney in its Voting Rights Project, Adriel I. Cepeda Derieux. Generally, the piece takes issue with the argument that former attorney general Robert F. Kennedy believed (based on a 1963 memo) that granting D.C. statehood would require a constitutional amendment. For instance, the article prominently cites the latter’s daughter, former Maryland Lieutenant Governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend (D), who said in an interview on the subject, “No one can say for certain the position of someone no longer around to speak for himself.” 8
- “Kristen M. Lee, Congressional Staffer – Salary Data.” Legistorm. Accessed March 28, 2022. https://www.legistorm.com/person/Kristen_M_Lee/233318.html
- Search: ‘Kristen Lee,’ date of first result. ACLU. March 22, 2021. Accessed March 28, 2022.
- Isaac-Dover, Edward. “ACLU to storm 2018 midterms.” Politico. January 6, 2018. Accessed March 28, 2022. https://www.politico.com/story/2018/01/06/aclu-2018-midterms-327115
- “About the ACLU.” ACLU. Archived April 12, 1997. Accessed March 28, 2022. https://web.archive.org/web/19970412155011/http://www.aclu.org:80/about/about.html
- “Ronald Newman: National Political Director.” ACLU. Accessed March 28, 2022. https://www.aclu.org/bio/ronald-newman.
- Lee, Kristen; Syed, Ihaab; Rafei, Leila. “100 Years and Counting: The Fight for Women’s Suffrage Continues.” ACLU. August 28, 2020. Accessed March 28, 2022. https://www.aclu.org/news/voting-rights/100-years-and-counting-the-fight-for-womens-suffrage-continues.
- Hopkins, Monica; Lee, Kristen. “LACK OF FULL STATEHOOD RIGHTS CONTINUES TO CAUSE HARM TO THE HEALTH AND SAFETY OF D.C. RESIDENTS.” ACLU. March 22, 2021. Accessed March 28, 2022. https://www.acludc.org/en/news/lack-full-statehood-rights-continues-cause-harm-health-and-safety-dc-residents.
- Lee, Kristen; Cepeda Derieux, Adriel I. “D.C. Statehood is Constitutional. Robert Kennedy Never Said Otherwise.” ACLU. June 22, 2021. Accessed March 28, 2022. https://www.aclu.org/news/voting-rights/d-c-statehood-is-constitutional-robert-kennedy-never-said-otherwise.