about the common cause

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Common Cause

Common Cause was founded in 1970 by John Gardner, former Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare. Gardner envisioned a movement propelled by the focused and concerted grassroots lobbying activities of Common Cause members and reinforced with professional lobbying on Capitol Hill. His nonpartisan, citizens' lobbying group made an immediate impact.

Within a year, more than 100,000 citizens had joined Common Cause and its agenda quickly grew to include ending U.S. involvement in Vietnam, reforming the campaign finance system, and pressing for civil rights, ethics, financial and lobby disclosure, and open meeting laws.

Recognizing the need for fundamental reform at the state level, Common Cause soon began organizing parallel lobbying efforts in the states and establishing Common Cause state organizations.

Common Cause Today

"Common Cause has been an uncommonly successful lobby in terms of the depth and breadth of its efforts - in the Congress and state legislatures - there probably has never been a reform movement so active and with such a record of accomplishment."


Common Cause has more than 200,000 members nationwide, with active members and volunteers in every state.

Financed by the dues and contributions of its individual members, Common Cause does not accept foundation or government grants or solicit contributions from labor unions or corporations. Because it is a lobbying organization, contributions to Common Cause are not tax deductible. The annual operating budget is approximately $10 million.

The Chair of Common Cause is Derek Bok; the President is Scott Harshbarger. Former Watergate Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox is Chairman Emeritus.

Common Cause's 30-member National Governing Board serves as its policy-making body. The members of the Board are elected by the membership to three-year terms. Board members meet in Washington three times a year to discuss, determine and oversee Common Cause's issue, organizational...