BURKE, Va. — Robert W. Edgar, who represented Pennsylvania for six terms in the House of Representatives and went on to lead the public interest group Common Cause, died Tuesday. He was 69.

Edgar collapsed Tuesday morning in the basement of his home in Burke after a run on the treadmill, said his wife of 48 years, Merle Edgar.

Edgar, a liberal Democrat, was elected in 1974 in a large class of newcomers that came to Washington following the Watergate scandal. His political career ended after he lost a U.S. Senate campaign in 1986 to Arlen Specter.

Edgar had maintained an active travel schedule with Common Cause until his death, advocating for open government. He was the group’s president and CEO from 2007 until his death.

He also served as secretary general of the National Council of Churches from 2000 to 2007.

His wife said that his career after politics was a natural extension of his work as an elected official; he gravitated to jobs in public service.

“He was always trying to make the world a better place for all human beings,” she said.


Correction: The headline for the story was revised at 10:18 a.m., April 24, 2013, to state that Robert W. Edgar served as the CEO of Common Cause.