With the scent of scandal surrounding the White House and the federal bureaucracy, you would think that the “watchdogs” at Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) would be on the prowl for politicized bureaucrats and alleged cover-ups. They aren’t.
In response to admissions by IRS official Lois Lerner that conservative and right-leaning groups faced disproportionate scrutiny in their applications for tax-exempt status, CREW elected to blame the victims. CREW sued the IRS, arguing that it didn’t scrutinize enough politically involved groups that don’t disclose their donors.
Interestingly, a former IRS official suggested in 2006 about people who thought CREW itself was too partisan to retain its tax-exempt status — as evidenced by its disproportionate attacks on conservatives and Republicans — that “at least preliminarily, I think they have a good case.” That’s not CREW’s only hypocrisy, though: Given CREW’s adamancy that other groups need to disclose their donors, surely CREW discloses its own? But it doesn’t. In fact, CREW director Melanie Sloan has said, “I wouldn’t have any donors if I revealed all my donors.” (We’ve pieced together some of CREW’s donors from other federal government documents, though.)
We’ll see how committed CREW really is to disclosure based on whether the group goes after the liberal Center for American Progress, whose donor list and journalistically disreputable practice of clearing “news” stories written by its ThinkProgress advocacy arm with its fundraising department leaked to the lefty newsmagazine The Nation this week. Given CREW’s habit of disproportionately attacking right-leaning entities we’re not holding our breath. But stranger things have happened, like CREW’s Sloan agreeing to work for (but later backing out from) a “legal crisis-management firm” that provided image burnishing services to African dictators.