Common Cause
Common Cause is a self-described nonpartisan
In political science, nonpartisan denotes an election, event, organization or person in which there is no formally declared association with a political party affiliation....

, nonprofit
Non-profit organization
Nonprofit organization is neither a legal nor technical definition but generally refers to an organization that uses surplus revenues to achieve its goals, rather than distributing them as profit or dividends...

 lobby and advocacy organization. It was founded in 1970 by John W. Gardner
John W. Gardner
John William Gardner, was Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare under President Lyndon Johnson. During World War II he served in the United States Marine Corps as a captain. In 1955 he became president of the Carnegie Corporation of New York and, concurrently, the Carnegie Foundation for...

, a Republican former cabinet secretary under Lyndon Johnson, as a "citizens' lobby" with a mission focused on making U.S. political institutions more open and accountable.

Common Cause's current president and chief executive officer is Robert W. Edgar
Robert W. Edgar
Rev. Dr. Robert William Edgar is president and CEO of Common Cause, a nonpartisan government watchdog organization, effective May 2007. He served as a Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives from 1975 to 1987, representing the 7th district of Pennsylvania...

, a former Democratic
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

United States House of Representatives
The United States House of Representatives is one of the two Houses of the United States Congress, the bicameral legislature which also includes the Senate.The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One of the Constitution...

 from Pennsylvania. Its chairman is former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich
Robert Reich
Robert Bernard Reich is an American political economist, professor, author, and political commentator. He served in the administrations of Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter and was Secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton from 1993 to 1997....

. It has offices in 36 states, and is funded by dues and contributions from its nearly 400,000 members and supporters.

Mission, political leanings, and issues

The organization's mission statement says they are a "nonpartisan, grassroots organization dedicated to restoring the core values of American democracy, reinventing an open, honest and accountable government that serves the public interest, and empowering ordinary people to make their voices heard in the political process.”.

It is described as liberal
Liberalism in the United States
Liberalism in the United States is a broad political philosophy centered on the unalienable rights of the individual. The fundamental liberal ideals of freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion for all belief systems, and the separation of church and state, right to due process...

 by such news organizations as The Washington Post
The Washington Post
The Washington Post is Washington, D.C.'s largest newspaper and its oldest still-existing paper, founded in 1877. Located in the capital of the United States, The Post has a particular emphasis on national politics. D.C., Maryland, and Virginia editions are printed for daily circulation...

, The New York Times
The New York Times
The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

, Newsweek
Newsweek is an American weekly news magazine published in New York City. It is distributed throughout the United States and internationally. It is the second-largest news weekly magazine in the U.S., having trailed Time in circulation and advertising revenue for most of its existence...

Time (magazine)
Time is an American news magazine. A European edition is published from London. Time Europe covers the Middle East, Africa and, since 2003, Latin America. An Asian edition is based in Hong Kong...

, and USA Today
USA Today
USA Today is a national American daily newspaper published by the Gannett Company. It was founded by Al Neuharth. The newspaper vies with The Wall Street Journal for the position of having the widest circulation of any newspaper in the United States, something it previously held since 2003...

. Common Cause regularly participates in the National Conference for Media Reform
National Conference for Media Reform
The National Conference for Media Reform is the largest conference devoted to media, technology and democracy in the United States...

Common Cause focuses on five broad issues: campaign finance reform, election reform, ethics in government, government accountability, and the media. It also weighs in on health care, environmental, and defense topics.

Campaign finance reform

Common Cause’s is most notable for its activism for campaign finance reform
Campaign finance reform
Campaign finance reform is the common term for the political effort in the United States to change the involvement of money in politics, primarily in political campaigns....

. In 1974 Common Cause led the effort to pass the Federal Election Campaign Act
Federal Election Campaign Act
The Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 is a United States federal law which increased disclosure of contributions for federal campaigns. It was amended in 1974 to place legal limits on the campaign contributions...

 (FECA), creating the current system of public financing in presidential campaigns.

At the state level, Common Cause has led successful efforts to pass campaign finance reforms, including the first disclosure laws, contribution limits and public financing in states such as Wisconsin, Minnesota, New Jersey, Michigan, Kentucky, Connecticut, and Florida.

Common Cause is currently working on legislation for voluntary public financing in Maryland, New Mexico, and other states.

Election reform

Common Cause advocates a voter-verified paper audit trail for election machines in all states. In January 2008, Common Cause and the Verified Voting Foundation released a report entitled “Voting at Risk 2008” highlighting the problems with electronic voting machines. The report listed 17 states as “High-Risk”.

Common Cause is in favor of establishing a national popular vote for presidential elections to replace the current electoral college
Electoral college
An electoral college is a set of electors who are selected to elect a candidate to a particular office. Often these represent different organizations or entities, with each organization or entity represented by a particular number of electors or with votes weighted in a particular way...

 system. Since 2005 Common Cause has advocated giving the District of Columbia voting rights in Congress.


Common Cause's Media and Democracy department focuses on media ownership, network neutrality
Network neutrality
Network neutrality is a principle that advocates no restrictions by Internet service providers or governments on consumers' access to networks that participate in the Internet...

 and community broadband.


Common Cause was instrumental in passage of the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act
Honest Leadership and Open Government Act
The Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007 is a law of the United States federal government that amended parts of the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995...

 of 2007, which was enacted on September 14, 2007. The bill strengthens public disclosure requirements concerning lobbying activity and funding, places more restrictions on gifts for members of Congress and their staff, and provides for mandatory disclosure of earmarks in expenditure bills.

Government accountability

In 1972, Common Cause sued President Richard Nixon
Richard Nixon
Richard Milhous Nixon was the 37th President of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1974. The only president to resign the office, Nixon had previously served as a US representative and senator from California and as the 36th Vice President of the United States from 1953 to 1961 under...

's re-election campaign, the Committee to Re-Elect the President
Committee to Re-elect the President
The Committee for the Re-Election of the President, abbreviated CRP but often mocked by the acronym CREEP, was a fundraising organization of United States President Richard Nixon's administration...

 (CREEP), under the Federal Corrupt Practices Act
Federal Corrupt Practices Act
The Federal Corrupt Practices Act was a federal law of the United States enacted in 1910 and amended in 1911 and 1925. It remained the nation's primary law regulating campaign finance in federal elections until the passage of the Federal Election Campaign Act in 1971. Created by President William H...

 for failure to report campaign contributions. This high-profile case forced Nixon to expose his secret list of donors and aided in his ultimate downfall two years later.


In January 2011, Common Cause filed a petition with the Justice Department
United States Department of Justice
The United States Department of Justice , is the United States federal executive department responsible for the enforcement of the law and administration of justice, equivalent to the justice or interior ministries of other countries.The Department is led by the Attorney General, who is nominated...

, seeking an investigation about whether United States Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia
Antonin Scalia
Antonin Gregory Scalia is an American jurist who serves as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. As the longest-serving justice on the Court, Scalia is the Senior Associate Justice...

 and Clarence Thomas
Clarence Thomas
Clarence Thomas is an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Succeeding Thurgood Marshall, Thomas is the second African American to serve on the Court....

 should have recused themselves from the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission
Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission
Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, , was a landmark decision by the United States Supreme Court holding that the First Amendment prohibits government from censoring political broadcasts in candidate elections when those broadcasts are funded by corporations or unions...

 case. Common Cause then investigated the financial filings of Thomas, saying that Thomas did not include his wife's income in his filings. Bob Edgar, Common Cause president, called Thomas' explanation of his omissions "implausible."


In 2011, the group hosted a rally near the site of a meeting of wealthy conservative activists organized by the Koch family
Koch family
The Koch family of industrialists and businessmen is most notable for their control of Koch Industries, the second largest privately owned company in the United States. The family business was started by Fred C. Koch, who developed a new cracking method for the refinement of heavy oil into...

. Christian Hartsock, a videographer who contributes to Andrew Breitbart
Andrew Breitbart
Andrew Breitbart is an American publisher, commentator for the Washington Times, author, an occasional guest commentator on various news programs who has served as an editor for the Drudge Report website...

's, interviewed several attendees who made racist remarks about Thomas, such as suggesting he should be lynched and that he should be put back in the fields. Another person suggested that Fox News CEO Roger Ailes
Roger Ailes
Roger Eugene Ailes is president of Fox News Channel, chairman of the Fox Television Stations Group. Ailes was a media consultant for Republican presidents Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and George H. W...

 should be killed. Common Cause quickly condemned such rhetoric.


Common Cause receives funding from, among other groups, liberal George Soros
George Soros
George Soros is a Hungarian-American business magnate, investor, philosopher, and philanthropist. He is the chairman of Soros Fund Management. Soros supports progressive-liberal causes...

' Open Society Institute
Open Society Institute
The Open Society Institute , renamed in 2011 to Open Society Foundations, is a private operating and grantmaking foundation started by George Soros, aimed to shape public policy to promote democratic governance, human rights, and economic, legal, and social reform...


Common Cause Magazine

From 1980 through 1996, Common Cause published the self-named Common Cause Magazine. The magazine, once termed "the little magazine that could," and described by the Washington Post as "a deeply researched, finger-in-your-eye sort of periodical", paralleled the work of Common Cause and focused on issues such as campaign finance and government accountability.

The magazine won more than two dozen journalism awards, including five from Investigative Reporters and Editors, as well as a National Magazine Award for General Excellence.

According to a Washington Post article, Common Cause was considering acquiring the Washington Monthly magazine. However, the National Governing Board voted against the Washington Monthly acquisition at its spring 2008 meeting.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.