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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Common Cause closing down in Florida



After 35 years, the watchdog group Common Cause is leaving Florida as a result, its leader says, of the bad economy. Executive Director Ben Wilcox has lost his job after 10 years of advocating for open government, stricter ethics laws, campaign finance reform and other issues.

"They're folding the tent," Wilcox said Friday, at the end of a week in which he lobbied in support of the state's public campaign finance program and against a bill that would require paid initiative petition solicitors to register with the state. "It's the economy, fund-raising, things like that."

Wilcox is a former public radio reporter who joined Common Cause in September 1999. His predecessors were Sally Spener, Bill Jones and Peter Butzin. A full-time fund-raiser based in Sarasota also is being let go, Wilcox said, as non-profits face serious problems trying to raise money through foundations or direct mail appeals. 

[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 7:32pm]


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