The watchdog group Common Cause is promoting its Florida Program Director Amy Keith to become its new state Executive Director and her first day on the job brought a ruling that reverses a decision the organization helped fight for.
A congressional district map that the a state court found in September violated the state constitution should remain in effect, according to a Friday ruling from the 1st District Court of Appeal. The map was controversial because of the way it dismantled a Black district that elected Rep. Al Lawson Jr. to Congress.
On her first day leading Common Cause Florida, Keith slammed the ruling.
“This decision blatantly ignores the will of Florida voters who — more than a decade ago — demanded Fair Districts that protect representation for communities of color,” she said.
Nevertheless, Keith is credited with, among other items, helping to defeat proposed state legislation (SB 1220, HB 991) that would have lowered the threshold for suing journalists for defamation and set the stage for upending the 59-year-old precedent set in the U.S. Supreme Court ruling New York Times v. Sullivan.
“Amy’s two decades of coalition building experience will serve the people of Florida well in her new role,” said Common Cause interim Co-President Marilyn Carpinteyro. “Amy has already notched important pro-democracy victories — including protecting the freedom of speech, spearheading statewide voter protection efforts, and challenging gerrymandered voting maps in court.”
“Black voters in Florida have a right to elect candidates of their choice to represent them in Congress,” Keith said, according to a Common Cause news release.
A decision on that case is still pending.
Keith also led a nonpartisan coalition of more than 40 organizations that protected access to the ballot by training poll monitors and staffing polls to help people during early voting and on Election Day in the Midterm elections.
“I am proud of the organization’s legacy and honored to be selected to help further it as the next Executive Director,” Keith said in a prepared statement.
“Common Cause has a long and impressive history of fighting for a more inclusive democracy in Florida, from sunshine laws, to the Fair Districts Amendments, to election protection. Florida faces critical challenges in 2024, and I am ready to lead our Common Cause team as we continue to hold our leaders accountable so all Floridians can make their voices heard.”
Before she joined the organization, Keith had a 20-year career in international crisis response and refugee protection. She also worked with the League of Women Voters in Florida, according to a news release.
A resident of St. Petersburg, Keith holds a Master of Public Administration from Columbia University and a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from Bates College in Lewiston, Maine.