Common Cause Targeted – Democracy Attacked

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Correction: At the time of publication we used the word investigation to describe activity by the Wake County District Attorney when we should have said preliminary review. We’ve corrected this piece and regret any confusion it caused.

Common Cause North Carolina and three of our allies there were targeted by a fake donor who attempted to get people on the record talking about ways to break election laws registering people not eligible to vote. He also attempted to introduce a fake volunteer to embed a spy in our midst. Once the groups in North Carolina understood they were dealing with a fraud, they reported the incident to law enforcement. A preliminary review into the matter is active in the Wake County District Attorney’s office. Two teams of investigative reporters released results in two major stories today in the Raleigh News & Observer and North Carolina Policy Watch.  Common Cause will continue to cooperate with authorities and comment on what we learn as we can.

Statement of Common Cause President Karen Hobert Flynn

Sometimes when people hear ‘Common Cause is the target of a sting operation’ the assumption is we’ve done something wrong. In fact, today, not one, but two teams of investigative journalists released major stories with some big political news – and it isn’t Common Cause or our allies who they investigated. Add to that the District Attorney in Wake County, North Carolina, who has opened a preliminary review into the same subject and it is clear: no one affiliated with Common Cause or our allies have done anything wrong. 

But politics is different. At Common Cause we believe in the separation of politics and government as much as church and state. We’re strictly nonpartisan and as advocates for good government, we’ve challenged both major parties with our innovative democracy reforms that shift power from wealthy special interests to the people. In our quest for better politics, we stand rock solid on the side of the people. We’ll call out bad actors as we do here, so some will hear this as partisan, but for us, it isn’t. Our detractors on the left think we’ve sold out to the establishment and are ineffective and our detractors on the right try to undermine our hard-earned nonpartisan credentials by labeling us as ‘liberal’ to undermine our effectiveness.  

Our only agenda is to strengthen the people’s voice in our democracy. 

Common Cause may be the target, but the attack is on our democracy and on the right of every eligible voter to have a say in the future for our families, communities, and country. 

Voters have a clear moral choice before them as early voting begins in many states. Do you believe every eligible person should have a vote, or do you believe only certain people should vote?  

Too often people confuse politics with governing, so another way of framing the moral choice is to ask candidates for every office, in all parties, if they believe people should be encouraged to vote or discouraged to vote as a matter of public policy. 

Given the number of voter suppression tactics that are currently masquerading as legitimate laws and the number of court cases challenging people’s right to vote by limiting hours or purging voter rolls, it is clear as a matter of policy the opponents of democracy believe in vote suppression. Common Cause prefers to urge everyone to vote, but if you miss one election you shouldn’t lose your right or be forced to re-register. 

Voting is a sacred right, cherished by people from every background and life experience in the USA. Common Cause will never be intimidated or stop our work to make elections about voters and improving the voting experience, as opposed to making elections about politicians. Elections are for the people to decide.


“Common Cause NC statement on the attempt by out-of-state political operatives to interfere in NC election” is available here.