Common Cause is a Washington D.C.-based progressive organization that aims to “restore the core values of American democracy,” fighting to combat problems such as political corruption and the control of politics by big money. While Common Cause claims to be a non-partisan “watchdog,” in reality the organization does nothing more than act as a safeguard for the Democratic Party, defending its liberal policies and promoting its agenda.
Common Cause was founded in 1970 by John Gardner, former Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare in President Lyndon B. Johnson’s administration. The current CEO of Common Cause is Robert (Bob) Edgar, formerly a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives. Common Cause masquerades as a group promoting democracy and transparency in politics. However, the organization’s true motivation is to advance its progressive agenda and block the conservative movement.
Flip-flopping on the Filibuster
In 2005, both chambers of the U.S. Congress were controlled by the Republican Party. At this time, Common Cause staunchly defended the right of the then-minority (Democratic) party in the Senate to use the filibuster. The group went a step further and expressed outrage at any notion of the majority (Republican) party from infringing upon the ability to use the filibuster, according to a 2005 press release:
Common Cause strongly opposes any effort by Senate leaders to outlaw filibusters of judicial nominees to silence a vigorous debate about the qualifications of these nominees, short-circuiting the Senate’s historic role in the nomination approval process.
“The filibuster shouldn’t be jettisoned simply because it’s inconvenient to the majority party’s goals,” said Common Cause [now former] President Chellie Pingree. “That’s abuse of power.”
Unfortunately, Common Cause has subsequently removed the press release from its website due to the results of the 2006 congressional elections—an election that gave Democrats control of both houses of Congress and relegated the GOP to minority party status. During that same election, Common Cause President Chellie Pingree won a seat in the Maine congressional delegation to serve as a Democratic Congresswoman.
With Democrats now in control of Congress, Common Cause intensified its efforts on the filibuster, but from the opposite side of the argument. In short, when partisan control of Congress switched teams, so did Common Cause’s stance on the filibuster:
“Today’s filibuster-happy Senate minority is threatening to cripple our federal judiciary, abusing the Senate’s own rules to delay or block the confirmations of dozens of highly-qualified lawyers and state court judges nominated by President Obama to the federal bench.
“Because of the filibuster and other delaying tactics, fewer than half of the President’s nominees to date have been confirmed,” said Bob Edgar, Common Cause’s president.
Common Cause took its newly found hatred of the filibuster a step further by seeking legal action against the upper chamber of the U.S. Congress for following its own rules. POLITICO reported in May 2012:
“…Common Cause sued the U.S. Senate on Monday, challenging the constitutionality of the filibuster rules that require routine 60-vote thresholds for bills and nominations that often have majority support. Several House Democrats…also joined the suit.”
Hypocrisy on Big Money in Politics
Calling itself “nonpartisan,” one of the stated “Visions” on Common Cause’s website is to “curb the excessive influence of money on government decisions and elections.” While the organization outwardly claims it wants to reduce big money’s influence in politics, Common Cause continues to accept large contributions from partisan groups and uses that money to promote its partisan agenda. For example, Common Cause has received funding from George Soros’ Open Society Institute; Soros is the eccentric billionaire best known for backing left-wing advocacy groups.
Between 2000 and 2003, Open Society Institute contributed $600,000 to the Common Cause Education Fund, according to a Common Cause spokesperson in 2003. And the American Spectator stated that between 2001 and 2009, the total contribution from Soros’ Open Society to Common Cause was over $1.2 million. Other big money groups that have heavily funded Common Cause include the Joyce Foundation (which President Obama previously served as a Board Member), Arca Foundation, and the Carnegie Corp. of New York.
Despite its own funding by a left-leaning billionaire, Common Cause is a fierce critic of the Koch Brothers. Common Cause organized a “Koch Busters Rally,” which called on the Koch brothers to have an “open discussion of the challenges that unbridled corporate power pose to our democracy.” Meanwhile, the Democracy Alliance, another Soros-affiliated, left-wing group, emphasizes secrecy and confidentiality among its members/donors.