Common Cause Adds Expertise Anticipating Unprecedented Opportunities for Comprehensive Democracy Reform at State and Federal Levels

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(Washington, DC) — Common Cause is pleased to announce the return of Stephen Spaulding as Senior Advisor to the President and Senior Counsel, Public Policy and Government Affairs, effective October 20, 2020. Spaulding had been Senior Elections Counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on House Administration, which has jurisdiction over federal elections. 

As senior counsel to Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Spaulding advised on all matters of election law and policy before the Committee, including election administration, election security, campaign finance, and voting rights. He played a key leadership role in the House passage of three comprehensive election bills—the For the People Act, (H.R. 1); the SAFE Act, to bolster election security, (H.R. 2722); the SHIELD Act, to curb foreign election interference and disinformation, (H.R. 4617); and the election provisions of the Heroes Act, (H.R. 6800). Spaulding planned legislative and oversight strategy, including oversight of the Federal Election Commission and Election Assistance Commission, and assisted in planning field hearings to build the record supporting the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act (H.R. 4). 

Earlier in his career, Spaulding worked as Special Counsel to FEC Commissioner and Chair Ann Ravel at the Federal Election Commission where he advised her on enforcement, rulemaking, litigation, policy, and management of the agency. He also helped Commissioner Ravel in her work to highlight the increased partisan gridlock and acrimony at the agency that should be enforcing federal campaign finance laws.  Spaulding is returning to Common Cause for the third time, including most recently as Chief of Strategy and External Relations from 2017-2019, as well as Senior Policy Counsel and Legal Director from 2011-2016, where he coordinated litigation, as well as lead our policy work on filibuster reform, money in politics, and ethics.

“Stephen Spaulding is dedicated to strengthening democracy at every turn; he is proof there are far more people to celebrate doing good in and out of government than headlines or partisans with an agenda often suggest. He’s coming home to Common Cause because when you go into government to do good, you leave wanting to do good as well,” said Karen Hobert Flynn, Common Cause President. 

“Regardless of the election outcome, American voters are more engaged than ever before in a political system many took for granted until 2016 and now see as vulnerable and in need of comprehensive modernization,” Hobert Flynn said. “As we head from the most consequential election of our generation to the most significant redistricting for legislative maps in every state, Common Cause will be called on more and more to bring our expertise to help states and cities so we’re staffing up.  Stephen will bring his expertise to help cities and states that are embracing comprehensive democracy modernization in increasing numbers. One thing we know about Congress is that the best time to pass reform is after a scandal-ridden administration, so perhaps we’ll have federal reform opportunities as well,” Hobert Flynn said.

“Being in the House for the historic 116th Congress reinforced for me how important it is that more Americans participate in the political process. When we do, it makes more of a difference than many people believe,” said Stephen Spaulding. “Common Cause has the comprehensive, pragmatic, solutions agenda that brings Americans together to better understand and fully participate in our democracy. Common Cause combines expertise and insight about the legislative process with growing outside outrage at a political system that still doesn’t work equitably for all Americans. But it can and it will if we the people have the will to make democracy reform a consistent priority,” Spaulding said.

Election 2020 is the third consecutive election cycle in which there is increasing attention to democracy issues on ballot initiatives at the state and local level. It is the second consecutive cycle where democracy issues are at the top of the agenda in Congressional races, especially for House seats won in 2018, sweeping a new class of reform-minded members into power in the largest and most diverse class of incoming representatives to the House. That wave, combined with years of work laying the groundwork for reform, resulted in the For the People Act (H.R. 1), the most comprehensive democracy reform bill ever introduced in Congress passing the House. The failure of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to take up that bill and many others relating to election security or funding needed by states to conduct elections during the COVID-19 pandemic has made the need for democracy modernization a top issue in many of the most competitive U. S. Senate races this year.

Common Cause and the Common Cause Education Fund work to strengthen the people’s voice in our democracy by winning non-partisan solutions promoting small-dollar donor laws, higher ethical standards, fair maps to end gerrymandering, reduce barriers between eligible voters and their ballot to increase participation, and promote a diverse and competitive media landscape with an open and free internet that prioritizes the free political speech of the people over the paid political speech of a few billionaires and wealthy special interests. Combined, these issue areas comprise the core modernization agenda moving us toward a more reflective democracy that truly represents the diversity of people, ideas, and cultures in a modern 21st Century democracy. 

With more than 1.5 million supporters in all 50 states and every Congressional District, Common Cause is the largest and oldest non-partisan good government watchdog leading efforts to open government and create more accountability for 50 years.