November 5, 2019

Sohini Baliga

Washington, DCRyan Alexander announced today that she was resigning as President of Taxpayers for Common Sense, effective January 1, 2020. She will be replaced by Steve Ellis, currently Executive Vice President of the organization and a TCS staff member for more than 20 years.

Taxpayers for Common Sense is a prominent government watchdog organization and strong advocate for American taxpayers. TCS was established in 1995 and focuses on eliminating fraud, waste and abuse in federal agencies. During Alexander’s 13-year tenure, TCS became a prime source of information on government abuses for national, regional and local news outlets. Alexander will continue her affiliation with TCS, serving as a Senior Fellow in 2020.

Under Alexander’s dynamic leadership, Taxpayers for Common Sense more than doubled its budget; played a critical role in eliminating the duplicative and wasteful Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit; helped block additional funding for the problematic F-22 fighter plane; and stopped $50 billion in wasteful nuclear energy loan guarantees. Further, as a result of analysis on subsidies for wealthy, absentee farmers, TCS helped secure the first defeat of the farm bill on the floor of the House; and led successful efforts to secure bipartisan votes on wasteful spending and subsidies in the House and the Senate.

In particular, Alexander focused TCS’ attention on increasing government transparency and using data to identify waste.

Before Alexander became President in 2006, TCS had already earned significant recognition for documenting the abuses of earmarking. Most notably, in 2004, TCS discovered and ultimately stopped funding for the infamous “Bridge to Nowhere’’ in Alaska.

Alexander built on this work and published complete databases of earmarks contained in all of the appropriations bills – all without any formal disclosure requirement. As a result, Congress adopted rules requiring disclosure of all earmarks recipients and sponsors and ultimately placed a moratorium on the practice. In 2008 and 2009, TCS produced “Bailout Bank Bios” of hundreds of banks that received taxpayer funding under the Troubled Asset Relief Program, which was known as TARP. In recent years, TCS analyzed Department of the Interior data to expose the giveaway and waste of billions of cubic feet of methane worth more than a $1 billion.

Building on six years of data analysis of methane losses, TCS staff played a decisive role in defeating an effort to use the Congressional Review Act to repeal a Department of the Interior rule that would have reduced methane losses. The Congressional Review Act allows repeal of regulations with a simple majority vote in the Senate; the vote to repeal the methane rule was the only Congressional Review Act vote brought to the floor that was defeated.

Alexander and Ellis have been working closely for several months with TCS’ Board of Directors to ensure a seamless transition and to build on the organization’s strengths. Part of Alexander’s role as Senior Fellow will be provide strategic support to Vice President Autumn Hanna on the launch of Taxpayer Climate Accountability project.

“When Ryan told the board that she would be moving on after 13 years of leading and strengthening TCS, we were excited to learn that Steve was eager to take the reins,” said Mark Smith, chairman of the TCS board. “He has been with the organization for two decades, knows the programs through and through and has great relations with funders, media, and policymakers.’’

Smith continued: “There is no one more qualified for this role. In these extraordinary political times, Taxpayers for Common Sense’s ability to bridge partisan divides, produce objective accurate research and propose compelling policy solutions is invaluable.”

Ellis has been named “Top Lobbyist” by The Hill newspaper annually since 2008 and has earned the ire and admiration of Republicans and Democrats. He has testified before more than ten House and Senate Committees on a wide variety of taxpayer-related topics and served as a majority and minority witness for both Democrats and Republicans. An expert on the budget, he has appeared in all the major news outlets and is a frequent media commentator on many issues affecting taxpayers. A graduate of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, Ellis served for six years as Coast Guard officer before joining TCS.

“I’m excited about this opportunity to lead the organization into its second quarter century,” said Ellis. “With a staggering budget deficit and mounting debts, the work we do on behalf of American taxpayers has never been more important. She leaves big shoes to fill, but I’ve been working literally side-by-side with Ryan since she started. We’ve got a great team here with decades of experience. Autumn has been here 20 years, Josh Sewell has been with us for a dozen, and Wendy Jordan has more than 30 years of experience on her issues. We won’t miss a beat. We will continue to root out waste, fraud, and abuse, publish fact-based and unvarnished research on legislation and data and inform the American taxpayers what is going on with their tax dollars.”

“I have had a great time working with the unbelievable team at TCS,” Alexander said. “One of the best things about being a part of TCS is how much I have learned from the work we do here, about both nerdy policy details and the importance of talking and listening to people of all ideological stripes and backgrounds. I’m very proud of all that we have accomplished in my time as President. Even in this historically polarized time, TCS maintained and even increased our reputation for nonpartisanship.”

“Before joining the staff, I served on the TCS board for seven years, and I am committed to our mission and values,” Alexander continued. “This is why I’m excited to shift into a new role as Senior Fellow, partnering with Steve and Autumn on the new Taxpayer Climate Accountability project. In this new capacity, I can provide strategic program support in a targeted way.”

She concluded: “Steve has been an anchor for TCS for years. I know he will succeed in bringing TCS to the next level.”


Taxpayers for Common Sense is non-partisan budget watchdog with a mission to fight for the American taxpayer, ensure taxpayer dollars are spent responsibly, and advocate for a government that lives within its means.