Common Cause was founded in 1970 by John Gardner, former Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare. Gardner envisioned a movement propelled by the focused and concerted grassroots lobbying activities of Common Cause members and reinforced with professional lobbying on Capitol Hill. His nonpartisan, citizens' lobbying group made an immediate impact.
Within a year, more than 100,000 citizens had joined Common Cause and its agenda quickly grew to include ending U.S. involvement in Vietnam, reforming the campaign finance system, and pressing for civil rights, ethics, financial and lobby disclosure, and open meeting laws.
Recognizing the need for fundamental reform at the state level, Common Cause soon began organizing parallel lobbying efforts in the states and establishing Common Cause state organizations.
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