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Common Cause President Bob Edgar Dies Suddenly at 69

- Common Dreams staff

Bob Edgar

Common Cause President and former Congressman Bob Edgar died suddenly Tuesday at the age of 69, the group announced.

Jay Heck of Wisconsin Common Cause said Edgar suffered a massive heart attack while exercising at his northern Virginia home Tuesday morning and could not be revived.

Common Cause released the following statement:

Common Cause is deeply saddened to announce that Bob Edgar, its president and CEO, died suddenly this morning at his home. Bob was 69.

"We are deeply saddened and shaken today by the passing of Bob Edgar," said Common Cause Board Chair Robert Reich. "Bob will be remembered for his decency, kindness, compassion and humor. His deep commitment to social justice and strengthening our democracy is his greatest gift to Common Cause and the nation. Our hearts are with Bob’s family, his wife Merle, and sons Andrew, David and Rob, and their families.""

Bob, who served Pennsylvania in Congress for 12 years and also led the National Council of Churches, became the president and CEO of Common Cause in May 2007. He oversaw the relaunching of at least seven state chapters, traveled tirelessly to meet with and recruit Common Cause supporters and raised the organization’s national profile and its critical mission to strengthen our democracy.

Elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1974 to represent the Seventh Congressional District of Pennsylvania, Bob was part of the congressional class nicknamed "the Watergate babies," those elected in the wake of the Watergate scandal and who led sweeping reforms of Congress.

During six terms in the US House, Bob led efforts to improve public transportation, fought wasteful water projects and authored the Community Right to Know provision of Super Fund legislation. He also served on the House Select Committee on Assassinations that investigated the deaths of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and President John F. Kennedy. Bob also served on the Veterans Affairs Committee, working on issues around Agent Orange and readjustment counseling to treat post traumatic stress disorder.

Bob ran unsuccessfully for the US Senate in 1986 against Sen. Arlen Specter. That race fueled his frustration with the undue influence of money in politics and he became an active supporter of clean elections and campaign finance reform, issues that have long been Common Cause's hallmark. He served on Common Cause's National Governing Board for several years before becoming President of the organization.

Bob received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Lycoming College, Williamsport, Pa., and a master of divinity degree from the Theological School of Drew University, Madison, N.J. He also served as president of the Claremont School of Theology. He holds five honorary doctoral degrees. Bob sat on the boards of several organizations, including the National Coalition on Health Care, the Environment and Energy Study Institute, the National Foundation on Alternative Medicine, Drew University and the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy.

Bob was the author of "Middle Church," a call to progressive people of faith to take back the moral high ground from the extremists and make America a better and less divided country.

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