Memorial Service Wednesday for Common Cause President Bob Edgar

Memorial Service Wednesday for Common Cause President Bob Edgar

A public memorial service celebrating the life of Bob Edgar, a former member of Congress and Common Cause’s president and CEO, is scheduled for 1 p.m. Wednesday at Foundry United Methodist Church, 1500 16th St. NW, in Washington D.C.

U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, (D-IA), who served with Bob in the House of Representatives, and former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, chairman of Common Cause’s National Governing Board, are among those scheduled to speak.

Bob collapsed and died April 23 at his home in Burke, Va., a Washington suburb, after an early morning workout. He was 69 years old.

Bob assumed the presidency of Common Cause in 2007, leading a resurgence of the 42-year old “citizens lobby.” On his watch, the organization opened or revived at least seven state chapters and re-claimed its place nationally as a leader in the fight against the corrosive power of big money in U.S. elections.

Bob guided Common Cause through uphill battles challenging the constitutionality of the U.S. Senate’s filibuster rule, supporting tougher ethics enforcement at the Supreme Court, and backing a constitutional amendment overturning the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. He also helped spearhead Common Cause’s efforts to spotlight the secret lobbying of the American Legislative Exchange Council, a consortium of corporations and elected state legislators that has pushed hundreds of pieces of pro-business legislation into state law, often at the expense of the public interest.

An ordained Methodist minister, Bob served as general secretary of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA and president of Claremont School of Theology before joining Common Cause.

Bob represented Pennsylvania’s 7th Congressional District in the House from 1975-87, leading efforts to improve public transportation, fight wasteful water projects and provide aid to Vietnam War veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and the effects of exposure to Agent Orange. He authored the community Right to Know provision of Superfund legislation and served on the House Select Committee on Assassinations that investigated the deaths of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and President John F. Kennedy.

Bob ran unsuccessfully for the US Senate in 1986 against Sen. Arlen Specter. That race fueled his frustration with the undue influence of money in politics and he became an active supporter of clean elections and campaign finance reform, issues that have long been Common Cause’s hallmark. He served on Common Cause’s National Governing Board for several years before becoming president of the organization.

Bob was a graduate of Lycoming College, Williamsport, Pa., and earned a master of divinity degree from the Theological School of Drew University, Madison, N.J. He held five honorary doctoral degrees and – he was fond of reminding audiences – had five arrests for civil disobedience.