Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) had an undeserved reputation as a scourge of both parties in Washington while in reality it disproportionately attacked conservatives and Republicans in the service of its liberal funders and staffers. We say “had” that reputation because since 2014, when CREW was taken over by Democratic Party hatchet-man David Brock, reporters and other Beltway personages have taken a more skeptical eye towards CREW’s activities. Bloomberg News now reports that the skepticism extends to the top levels of CREW, leading at least two prominent CREW individuals to leave the organization and try to replicate the old-CREW model elsewhere.
CREW doesn’t even have a non-aligned office setup. Bloomberg reports:
Now, CREW shares office space, a board member and fundraising executive with the groups under Brock’s purview, and as a result is intertwined with the kinds of organizations it investigates. Some former staffers say that Brock, who has moved into the vice chairman role, has pulled the watchdog into a partisan agenda and, in doing so, weakened its impact.
The results of a partisan-aligned organization moving in with its partisan buddies under the control of a board of partisans are entirely predictable. Bloomberg’s analysis found that of CREW’s IRS and Federal Election Commission (FEC) complaints for the 2016 election cycle, 93% targeted Republicans or conservatives. (For comparison, before CREW was taken over by Brock and his allies, an analysis by CCF’s ActivistFacts project showed that “only” 76% of its FEC complaints targeted Republicans or conservatives.)
Additionally, former CREW Chief Counsel Anne Weismann—who has joined with former CREW board member Louis Mayberg to recreate the old hidden-partisanship style of “watchdog” activity at a new group called Campaign for Accountability—claims that the new CREW board wanted CREW to back off its existing investigations into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s email records. Weismann told Bloomberg: “It was made quite clear to me that CREW and I would not be commenting publicly on the issue of Secretary Clinton using a personal e-mail account to conduct agency business […] The fact that we said nothing on that subject says volumes.”
Again, CREW’s alignment with liberals and Democrats is nothing new. Secretary Clinton isn’t even the first prominent Democrat to get the speak-no-evil treatment from CREW—back in 2013, CREW didn’t intervene against then-Mayor of San Diego (and former U.S. Representative) Bob “Filthy” Filner when numerous women accused him of sexual harassment until Filner’s position was already untenable. (Filner ultimately pleaded guilty to charges related to “forcibly kissing or grabbing three women at campaign events or at City Hall,” resigned, and was sentenced to home confinement and probation.) But now that they’re aligned with a Democratic operative, the press is finally noticing the inherent conflicts.
The Center for Organizational Research and Education, the parent of CCF, is exempt from federal income tax under §501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and does not support or oppose candidates for public office.