Remembering Common Cause President Bob Edgar
These days, when a member of Congress leaves office, everybody around town expects them to cash out on K Street, advising corporate clients on the best way to pass policy in Congress and using their connections to make it happen.
Former U.S. Congressman and Common Cause President Bob Edgar wasn't that kind of former member and today all of us at Public Campaign are deeply saddened at the news that Bob passed away very suddenly early Tuesday morning.
Nearly forty years ago, Bob won a seat in the U.S. House as a “Watergate baby,” one of those hopeful young politicians who came to Washington D.C. ready to make a big difference. He left Congress six terms later, but never stopped making a difference, taking on the presidency of the Claremont School of Theology, and then becoming leader of the National Council of Churches.
In 2007, he was named President and CEO of Common Cause, the most important good government group in America. During his tenure, he strengthened the organization, building strong staff leadership, inspiring an active membership, and a laying down a robust financial base.
We’ve been next door to Common Cause on the reform landscape for years, but became literal neighbors in 2009, subletting a suite of offices from them here in DC. All of us got to know Bob as the guy down the hall after that. He was quick with a pun, perpetually energetic, and always ready with a new idea. Approaching his 70th birthday next month, he showed no signs of slowing down in his quest for a kinder, more just society, making his death today a tremendous shock.
A preacher by training, Bob would often engage audiences in this call-and-response chant.
We are. (We are.)
The leaders. (The leaders.)
We’ve been waiting for. (We’ve been waiting for.)
With public figures it’s always important to listen to what they say, but to keep a closer eye on what they do. Leading by example, Bob never hesitated when justice was at stake. We are better off for that fact. Thank you, Bob.
Nick Nyhart is the president and CEO of Public Campaign.