David Cohen, Pioneer of Public Interest Lobbying, Dies during 79

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David Cohen before a Senate Judiciary Committee in 1977.

Associated Press

David Cohen, a contentious Washington white-hat lobbyist who as a boss of Common Cause successfully fought for post-Watergate laws on ethics, debate financing and open disclosure, died on Sunday in Westport, Conn. He was 79.

The means was a heart attack, pronounced his son, Aaron, whose home he was visiting.

Over 4 decades during Common Cause, a Advocacy Institute and other nonprofit groups, Mr. Cohen helped galvanize insurgency to a quarrel in Vietnam, improved financing for a MX mixed warhead barb complement and frustrate a Supreme Court assignment of Judge Robert H. Bork.

Mr. Cohen assimilated Common Cause in 1971, a year after if was founded by John W. Gardner, a Republican who was a secretary of health, preparation and gratification underneath President Lyndon B. Johnson, a Democrat. Within about 5 years, a group’s ranks had distended from 4,000 members, who paid $15 in yearly dues, to 250,000, creation it a nation’s largest inactive supposed citizens’ lobby.

While David Broder, a Washington Post columnist, wrote in 1977 that Common Cause’s bulletin was “redolent of an unacknowledged disposition for middle-class activism” (its members were whiter, wealthier and improved prepared than many Americans), he also credited a classification with carrying had “more impact on changing — and opening adult — a domestic complement than any other organisation in America in new years.”

Mr. Cohen was Common Cause’s boss from 1975 to 1981.

Through it all, he hoped to enlarge a clarification of lobbyist from a furtive, overpaid broker for miserly special interests to a upholder of open causes, a eminence that Michael Pertschuk, a former Federal Trade Commission authority with whom he founded a Advocacy Institute in 1985, described as “lobbying though a lot of money.”

Mr. Cohen even went so distant as to impersonate his contention as “prophetic and priestly,” explaining in “The Nonprofit Lobbying Guide” (1999): “Public seductiveness lobbyists are generally endangered with incorporating a views of people who are not routinely partial of a process.”

Mr. Cohen told Pacific Standard repository in 2013: “We all know a animation impression of a fat man with a large cigar flitting out oodles of money. That’s not a full story or anything tighten to it. Lobbying is about representing people’s interests as they work to calibrate their open grievances. We all have special interests, and they should not be discharged or castigated.”

He acknowledged, though, “I have never listened a primogenitor say, ‘I wish my child to be a lobbyist.’”

David Pesach Cohen was innate in Philadelphia on Oct. 10, 1936, a son of European immigrants. His father, Joseph, was a tailor. His mom was a former Gertrude Schwab.

He majored in story during Temple University in Philadelphia and graduated in 1958. He afterwards went to law propagandize during a University of Pennsylvania though forsaken out and took a pursuit with a Upholsterers International Union, whose ranks had been depleted when seat manufacturers began opening nonunion shops in a South.

Mr. Cohen after changed to Washington to turn legislative deputy for a magnanimous Americans for Democratic Action and afterwards executive of margin operations for Common Cause.

He and his wife, a former Carla Furstenberg, were partial owners of Politics Prose, a renouned Washington bookstore that Mrs. Cohen operated for decades with Barbara Meade. Mrs. Cohen died in 2010 during 74.

In further to his son, Mr. Cohen is survived by a daughter, Eve Cohen, and dual grandchildren.

Nobody who dealt with Mr. Cohen doubted where he stood (in preference of polite rights, chief disarmament, common negotiate rights and debate spending disclosure, among other causes), though he was not deliberate doctrinaire.

The “Encyclopedia of Political Parties and Elections in a United States” pronounced Mr. Cohen was “widely regarded as his generation’s heading open seductiveness congressional lobbyist” since of his “reputation for offset judgment, tasteful dealing, harsh calm and a present for combining legislative coalitions.”

Believing he could be some-more effective outward government, Mr. Cohen tangible an effective lobbyist as someone who “listens all a time, for signals, for formula words, for clues,” adding, “Even within a horizon of something we are advocating, there is room for disproportion and room for anticipating opposite ways to get to a same place.”

But he also argued that “the disadvantaged, that don’t have a resources to quarrel like other seductiveness groups, always remove out.” He committed himself to shutting that gap.

Two weeks after President Ronald Reagan nominated Judge Bork to a Supreme Court in 1987, according to Ethan Bronner’s book “Battle for Justice: How a Bork Nomination Shook America,” Mr. Cohen and Mr. Pertschuk, during a Advocacy Institute, released a diversion devise to interest to pivotal Senate centrists on how to expel Judge Bork as a “judicial extremist” and an “ideological activist” whom genuine conservatives who cared about personal rights and feared supervision penetration could absolutely oppose.

Judge Bork was deserted by a Senate opinion of 58-42.

“I’m unapproachable that we helped make some constructive changes occur and helped retard damaging ones from happening,” Mr. Cohen pronounced in a Pacific Standard interview. “Obviously, we concede all a time, though we don’t consider I’ve ever had to do anything we was ashamed of. And I’ve enjoyed it all — immensely. It’s what John Adams called ‘the open happiness.’”