Our Heroes

John Gardner

A Republican and a Cabinet secretary under Democratic President Lyndon Johnson, Gardner founded Common Cause in 1970. An inspirational thinker, leader, and author, he observed that in Washington, “Everybody’s organized but the people,” and created Common Cause as a “citizens lobby” for honest, open and accountable government.

Archibald Cox

Common Cause national chairman, 1980-92. As Watergate special prosecutor in 1973, Cox became perhaps America’s most respected lawyer, leading a relentless pursuit of the Nixon administration’s abuses of presidential power. His firing in the “Saturday Night Massacre,” Oct. 23, 1973, led to unraveling of scandals that eventually forced President Nixon from office.

Dorothy Height

A member of Common Cause’s original national board, Height was a key figure of the civil rights movement in the 1950s and ‘60s. At her death in 2010, The New York Times described Height as “the leader who was cropped out, figuratively and often literally, of images of the era.” She headed the National Council of Negro Women for four decades.
J. Irwin Miller

A member of Common Cause’s original national board, Miller was an industrialist and architectural patron whose business background made him an unlikely leader for a political reform group. His financial backing and early involvement helped establish Common Cause as firmly non-partisan but nevertheless in the mainstream of American politics.

Bob Edgar

Common Cause president, 2007-13. Edgar was a Methodist minister, six-term congressman, college president and head of the National Council of Churches before joining Common Cause. He led our challenge to the U.S. Senate’s filibuster rule and campaigns to tighten ethical standards at the Supreme Court and focus public attention on the American Legislative Exchange Council, a corporate-backed lobby that had quietly re-written hundreds of state laws to benefit private interests.

Fred Wertheimer

Common Cause president, 1981-95. A lawyer, Wertheimer was a Common Cause staffer for 10 years before becoming president and a key player in our successful advocacy for post-Watergate laws that imposed limits and disclosure requirements on campaign contributions. He now heads Democracy 21, another Washington-based government and political watchdog group.

Craig Barnes

A lawyer, author and radio host, Barnes was the founder of Common Cause’s Colorado chapter and served on our National Governing Board. He was the author of several books, including “In Search of the Lost Feminine: Decoding the Myths That Radically Reshaped Civilization” and “Democracy at the Crossroads: Princes, Peasants, Poets and Presidents in the Struggle for (and against) the Rule of Law.”

David Cohen

Common Cause President, 1975-81. Cohen was senior congressional fellow at the Council for a Livable World as well as a senior advisor to Experience Corps, a senior fellow at Civic Ventures, and the president of Global Integrity. The Encyclopedia of Political Parties and Elections in the United States has described him as “his generation's leading public interest congressional lobbyist and mentor of lobbyists."

Len Hill

Leonard “Len" F. Hill, was a former network executive who turned producer, and executive produced more than three dozen TV longforms and a handful of series since he became an independent producer in 1980. His work includes the biographical film “Mae West” (ABC, 1982), and the miniseries “The Long Hot Summer” (NBC, 1985), which earned Mr. Hill an Emmy nomination. Mr. Hill received his BA from Yale University in 1969 and his MA from Stanford University in education and history 1970. Mr. Hill was a passionate advocate for making our media more democratic. Len generously helped Common Cause launch our Media and Democracy Reform Initiative. 

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