Common Cause Maryland is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization dedicated to restoring the core values of American democracy, reinventing an open, honest and accountable government that works in the public interest, and empowering ordinary citizens to make their voices heard. Founded in 1974, Common Cause Maryland is one of the state’s most effective watchdog groups and has been a strong force for reform at the state and local levels.
We engage in strategic advocacy, research, and outreach to ensure that citizens’ voices are heard. Our goals are to promote government reforms at the state and local levels; hold public officials accountable for their actions; and document cases where special interests are unduly influencing the policy debate.
Since its founding in 1974, CCMD has played a leading role in passing stronger ethics, open meetings, and campaign finance laws at the state and local levels. We were instrumental in passing the State’s Motor Voter law and have played a leading role in establishing a system of early in-person voting. In 1999, in the wake of several high-profile scandals involving lobbyists in Annapolis, CCMD passed one of the toughest lobbying laws in the nation.
While lobbyists in other states have great leeway to individually entertain legislators, we made it so lobbyists in Maryland can only invite entire committees out for meals. Furthermore, lobbyists are required to report five days in advance with the State Ethics Commission when and where they will be entertaining a legislative committee. This gives citizens and the media the ability to watchdog attempts at undue influence before they even happen—not long after the fact.
Our key victories in the 2013 General Assembly session included:
- Passed a strong package of campaign finance reform including closing the loophole that allows limited liability companies (LLCs) to make unlimited political contributions, while at the same time expanding reporting requirements for out of state political action committees (PACs) and independent expenditures and laying the groundwork for local governments to establish public financing for County elections;
- Improved access to voting by expanding early voting and allowing same day voter registration during early voting times;
- Enhanced the Open Meetings Act by increasing penalties for violations and requiring public officials to receive training on implementing the act.
Common Cause Maryland was recognized by coalition partners, legislators, and the press as the driving force behind these new reforms.