The Fund for Constitutional Government is a public foundation, established in 1974 to expose governmental corruption. Its founder, Stewart R. Mott, described FCG in one of his newsletters as “a public-interest law group which takes on the White House, Congress, agencies, the Pentagon, and any department of government in which we think we can find a solid case of the corrupt use of power and politics… It’s tough and nasty stuff we deal with.”
Stewart Mott’s vision and guidance helped to shape the direction and early projects of the Fund for Constitutional Government. Born in 1937 in Flint, Michigan, Stewart was the son of Charles Stewart Mott, an early executive of General Motors. As such, Stewart was heir to a large sum of General Motors wealth, and made his life’s career out of giving much of that money away.
In the 1960s and 1970s, Stewart became a well-known and somewhat controversial activist. Although he became known partly for his eccentricities, he was also highly devoted to his ideals. Stewart was determined to address what he called “the two problems confronting planet earth that dwarf and aggravate all conventional problems, namely the threat of nuclear war and the continuing worldwide population explosion.” A self-described “avant-garde philanthropist,” Stewart gave money to causes such as population control, arms reduction, and abortion reform. He also donated to political candidates, supporting Sen. Eugene McCarthy’s bid for president in 1969 and Sen. George McGovern in 1972.
After the post-Watergate campaign reform laws of 1974 limited the amount that individuals could donate to candidates, Stewart began to devote much of his time and energy to FCG’s projects. The Fund set up shop in Stewart’s mini-mansion on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, where we are still located. Created with the help of attorney Edward Greensfelder, its first projects included the Honest Government Project, which was involved in the case to keep Richard Nixon’s presidential papers public; the Military Audit Project, which investigated sweetheart deals between the Department of Defense and military contractors; and the Almanac of American Politics, a detailed compendium of congressional districts and representatives.
For almost 40 years, FCG has fought corruption and abuse of power, but the goal of an open and transparent American government is an ongoing challenge. Some of our current concerns include anti-terrorism policies that violate civil liberties, corporate malfeasance, and public surveillance. Although Stewart passed away in June of 2008, his legacy lives on here at the Mott House. As history unfolds and new challenges emerge, FCG will continue to protect our Constitution.
For more information about the life of Stewart R. Mott: