Barry Kauffman’s 30-Year Legacy of Leadership in Pennsylvania

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  • Scott Swenson, Dale Eisman
Common Cause Pennsylvania Executive Director Announces Transition

HARRISBURG, PA – Barry Kauffman is starting a gradual transition away from Common Cause Pennsylvania, moving into a Senior Advisor role effective June 30, 2016. Barry will stay on as senior advisor through the end of the year as we begin our search for new staff leadership in Pennsylvania.

Kauffman’s leadership of Common Cause Pennsylvania and his high ethical standards earned him the honor of being called, “The Conscience of the Capitol” by the late Senator Charles Lemmond. 

Kauffman’s 30 years of leadership helped shape an important era of Pennsylvania Politics. Academics often cite Pennsylvania as being among the most “reform averse” states in the nation, but Kauffman is recognized as one of the consistently most effective leaders within Common Cause and at the Capitol in Harrisburg. Kauffman brought people together in coalition, around the Help America Vote Act, open records, and redistricting reform.

Despite this hostile environment, Kauffman’s successes include: lobbying disclosure, new open records laws, whistleblower protections for state employees, election modernization, strengthening Sunshine Laws, local campaign finance reforms, and local ethics ordinances. Kauffman also helped lay the groundwork for television coverage of government meetings and making those records available on the internet.

Kauffman took action that led to litigation preventing the legislature from passing “illegal state budgets.”

“Barry has been an astute observer of Pennsylvania politics,” said Karen Hobert Flynn, Common Cause president, adding, “He often sees the next fight before others do, able to anticipate government integrity dilemmas and anticipate and prepare responses. His deep knowledge of government and politics in Pennsylvania make him a resource in the state like no other.”

A fixture in Pennsylvania media, Kauffman built Common Cause Pennsylvania into a “go to resource” on ethics, democracy reform, and government integrity issues. He is regularly sought out by legislators for his strategic advice and early show of support when they considered new bills.

“I love Pennsylvania and know that Common Cause’s impact as a good government watchdog on state and local politics will continue,” Kauffman said. “This work can be tough at times, but there wasn’t a day in 30 years where I doubted our ability to make things a little better,” he added.

“The work of democracy never ends, but each of us are stewards of our piece of it for a short time,” Kauffman said. “It’s a good time for a thoughtful transition to new leadership, and a good time for me personally to see what my next mission is.”