About Us

About Us


Common Cause is a nonpartisan, nonprofit advocacy organization founded in 1970 by John Gardner as a vehicle for citizens to make their voices heard in the political process and to hold their elected leaders accountable to the public interest.


Now with nearly 400,000 members and supporters and 36 state organizations, Common Cause remains committed to honest, open and accountable government, as well as encouraging citizen participation in democracy.


In 2000, the organization created the Common Cause Education Fund, a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt public charity, as its public education and research affiliate.  Charity Navigator has awarded the Common Cause Education Fund with 4 stars (its highest ranking) for the past two years.


Please contact us at:


Common Cause

1133 19th Street NW, 9th Floor

Washington, DC 20036



Our Mission


To strengthen public participation and faith in our institutions of self-government; to ensure that government and political processes serve the general interest, rather than special interests; to curb the excessive influence of money on government decisions and elections; to promote fair elections and high ethical standards for government officials; and to protect the civil rights and civil liberties of all Americans.


How We Do It


"When the little guy wins, it's likely that Common Cause had something to do with the victory. It's good to know that the people can make a difference." - St. Petersburg Times

Today's political climate demands a citizens lobby that is strongly and effectively engaged, providing a watchful eye and demanding accountability of its leaders. We must be ever vigilant, and able to quickly seize timely opportunities as well as doggedly pursue long-term reform efforts.


To fight for the reforms so critical to our democracy, we employ a number of strategies, both internally as well as in coalition with our partners and other stakeholders, including lobbying, public education, grassroots and press outreach at the national, state and local level. We leverage the power of our activists and the credibility of the organization to assure that our voices are heard by those in government.


Our Issues


Common Cause is working to

Today, Common Cause is one of the most active, effective, and respected nonprofit organizations working for political change in America. Common Cause strives to strengthen our democracy by empowering our members, supporters and the general public to take action on critical policy issues.




Our Leadership


Bob Edgar is the president and CEO of Common Cause.  Bob arrived at Common Cause in 2007 with a long history of leadership and public service that included 12 years in Congress. He was the general secretary of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA for seven years immediately before becoming Common Cause President.  Elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1974 to represent the Seventh Congressional District of Pennsylvania, outside of Philadelphia, Bob was part of the congressional class nicknamed "the Watergate babies," those elected in the wake of the Watergate scandal and who led sweeping reforms of Congress.


Martha Tierney is the interim Chair of the National Governing Board.  Martha is a partner at the Denver law firm of Kelly Garnsey Hubbell + Lass LLC, where she concentrates on civil rights and election law matters, as well as commercial litigation in both federal and state courts. Martha joined the Common Cause National Governing Board in 2005 and also serves on the board of Colorado Common Cause. She is a member of the board of directors of the Colorado Lawyer’s Committee and serves on its election task force, as well as the Colorado Secretary of State’s campaign finance advisory committee.   Martha received her law degree from Vermont Law School and is graduate of Colorado College.

Common Cause's National Governing Board serves as its policy-making body and provides broad oversight for the organization.  The members of the board are chosen for three-year terms.  The board meets in Washington, DC three times a year to discuss, determine and oversee issue, financial and organizational matters.  Click here for a list of board members and their affiliations.



Our Funding

Common Cause is financed, in large part, by the dues and contributions of its individual members. Because it is a 501 (c)(4) lobbying organization, such contributions to Common Cause are not tax deductible. The Common Cause Education Fund, our 501(c)(3) affiliate, conducts research, education, and outreach activities and is supported by foundation grants and tax-deductible contributions from individuals and institutions. The combined annual operating budget of Common Cause and the Common Cause Education Fund is approximately $10 million.