Bob Edgar: 1943-2013

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Bob Edgar (Credit: Robbin Holland)

Bob Edgar, president and CEO of Common Cause, the citizen’s lobby group, died suddenly this morning, just a month shy of his 70th birthday.

Bob was one of the good guys, an energetic and ebullient crusader for reform who delighted in progressive success and never let a political setback slow him down. An ordained minister, he served six terms as a congressman from Pennsylvania, first elected in 1974 as one of the “Watergate babies” who came to office in the wave of reform that followed President Richard Nixon’s resignation. An unsuccessful U.S. Senate run in 1986 against Arlen Specter – who was still a Republican in those days – further spurred his interest in campaign finance reform, one of Common Cause’s most important issues. He became head of Common Cause in May 2007, after a period as general secretary of the National Council of Churches.

I was fortunate to be with Bob twice over the last month or so: at “The Lessons of Watergate” conference Common Cause sponsored in Washington, D.C., and then just two weeks ago at the National Conference for Media Reform in Denver – where we introduced each other to friends and colleagues and kiddingly lamented the awkward pairing of his terrific sense of humor with his notorious inability to tell a joke. We first met in 2008, when he appeared on Bill Moyers Journal as Bill’s guest with Joan Claybrook, then president of the non-partisan reform group Public Citizen. Here is their conversation, which aired the last weekend before Barack Obama’s election to the White House. The promise of campaign finance reform was in the air, but in the years since, little has changed. Nonetheless, Bob Edgar’s eternal optimism shines through:

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  • Arizona Eagletarian

    A profound loss to America. I’m deeply saddened by Bob’s passing.

  • Nancy LaPlaca

    A very, very sad day for our country and our world. We lost a true leader.

  • Citizen Sane

    one of the best citizens we have had. a model for us all.

  • Elizabeth Egan

    Bob Edgar was the People’s Champion. Anyone who values open and honest government in this country has lost a hero.

  • Teri McComb

    Godspeed Mr. Edgar. You will be remembered. I pray for your family’s comfort and many blessings to them.

  • Al Kauffman

    A great loss for our democracy. May his memory be for a blessing.

  • Doug Nielsen

    I count Bob among my friends, colleagues, and mentors. His influence lives on!

  • Pat Elgee

    “Follow the money” isn’t that how you find the crooks. The public needs published lists of who gets bucks and from whom. Then we can all vote out all incumbents. Wall Street bribes both sides so they can get bail outs, and avoid laws that might protect the citizens instead of them.

  • Pat Elgee

    There is no conflict of interest. Politicians are dedicated only to those who buy them off, voters are saps, do not even realize, that they are not even part of the equasion–entirely beneath their consideration
    The final disgrace is that one can only see the President if they pay.

  • Linda R Edwards

    Friends and family are heartbroken by the early loss of a true hero of our world and times. There was never another soul like that of Bob’s. The loss can hardly be comforted and the memory and spirit shall live among those of us who were privilege to know him, I for fifty-two years.