Biographical / Historical
David Cohen (1936-2015) was a longtime American public interest lobbyist. Born in Philadelphia on October 10, 1936, Cohen was the son of Joseph Cohen, a tailor, and Gertrude Schwab Cohen. David Cohen graduated from Temple University in 1958 with a degree in history.
Early in his career, Cohen worked for the Upholsterers Union. He then held a position with the liberal advocacy group Americans for Democratic Action in the early 1960s.
In 1971, Cohen joined Common Cause. He worked for Common Cause until 1981, advocating for government ethics laws, government transparency, campaign financing reform, civil rights, and other causes. During Cohen's association with Common Cause, that group became the largest nonpartisan public interest lobbying entity in the United States. Cohen served as president of Common Cause from 1975 to 1981.
In 1985, David Cohen co-founded the Advocacy Institute with Michael Pertschuk. With that organization, he continued his extensive public interest work and trained many lobbyists.
For many years, Cohen and his wife Carla Furstenberg were part owners of the popular Washington book store Politics and Prose. Mrs. Cohen died in 2010 at the age of 74.
David Cohen died on November 29, 2015 in Westport, Connecticut at the age of 79.
"David Cohen, Pioneer of Public Interest Lobbying, Dies at 79" from the "New York Times," 12/8/2015.
"David Cohen, Lobbyist for 'Public,' Rather than 'Special' Interests, Dies at 79" from the "Washington Post," 11/30/2015].