In a major power play that aligns liberal muscle more fully behind the Democratic Party — and Hillary Clinton — the self-described right-wing hitman-turned-Clinton enforcer David Brock is taking over a leading watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.
Brock was elected chairman of the group’s board last week after laying out a multifaceted expansion intended to turn the group into a more muscular — and likely partisan — attack dog, according to sources familiar with the move.
Brock confirmed the basics of the shakeup in an interview. The reconfigured CREW, which is searching for a new executive director, will add a more politically oriented arm, expand its focus into state politics and donor targeting and will operate in close coordination with Brock’s growing fleet of aggressive Democrat-backing nonprofits and super PACs — Media Matters, American Bridge and the American Independent Institute.
“CREW gives us some potentially powerful tools in the tool box,” said Brock, who founded his flagship organization Media Matters in 2004. “We have been in the accountability for 10 years very successfully. It is kind of a one-stop-shop now.”
And Brock’s army will be supplemented still further by the formation of a new overtly partisan watchdog group called The American Democracy Legal Fund, which is already preparing complaints against high-profile Republicans, including Michigan GOP Senate candidate Terry Lynn Land. That group will be run by Brad Woodhouse, the president of American Bridge, and will be registered under section 527 of the Tax Code — allowing it to engage in more political activity than CREW’s traditional portfolio. CREW has operated as a nonprofit registered under a section of the Tax Code — 501(c)3 — that prohibits partisan activity; under Brock’s leadership it will add a new more politically oriented arm registered under section 501(c)4.
CREW was founded in 2003 by former federal prosecutor Melanie Sloan and white-collar lawyer Norm Eisen, who went on to serve as President Barack Obama’s chief ethics lawyer and is now his ambassador to the Czech Republic. It carved out a reputation as a leading watchdog by relentlessly pursuing litigation and ethics complaints against primarily — though not exclusively — Republican public officials. It had its heyday during the Bush administration, when its complaints and investigations played major roles in the Jack Abramoff scandal and the downfalls of powerful GOP Reps. Tom Delay and Bob Ney.
But under the stewardship of Sloan, who serves as CREW’s executive director, the group went out of its way to demonstrate that it would not pull punches when it came to Democratic corruption. It boasts in a mission statement on its website, “we work to ensure government officials — regardless of party affiliation — act with honesty and integrity and merit the public trust,” and it also pursued broader good-government initiatives.
CREW wins media attention each year with its annual “Most Corrupt Members of Congress” report, which it started in 2005 and which has included 25 Democrats among its 88 featured members. It called for the resignations of embattled New York Democratic Reps. Anthony Weiner and Charlie Rangel, and has pending requests for investigations into the Obama administration, including its use of private emails to conduct government affairs.
David Brock, founder of the liberal watchdog group Media Matters for America (MMFA), is now taking overCitizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).
“In a major power play that aligns liberal muscle more fully behind the Democratic Party — and Hillary Clinton — the self-described right-wing hitman-turned-Clinton enforcer David Brock is taking over a leading watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington,”writes POLITICO.
With references in the media as a “nonpartisan” group, the Brock announcement may come as a shock to some who may not pay close attention to who is actually behind the group– but it shouldn’t.
CREW’s website states the following of its goals: “At CREW, we believe politicians must be held accountable for their actions. Day in and day out, we work to ensure government officials -regardless of party affiliation- act with honesty and integrity and merit the public trust.”
Despite what the website claims, CREW’s operations have always leaned heavily liberal. While they do take shots at Democrats, it is not nearly as often or as damaging as those directed at Republicans. CREW has launched legal battles against Republicans while mostly issuing verbal or written scoldings against Democrats. They’ve been extremely fortunate to squeak by without having a Democratic stigma tied to their organization. With the hiring of Brock, it just brings it more readily out and into the open.
Founded in 2001, the organization was launched by two Democratic strategists. The first, Norm Eisen, is an attorney and major liberal donor. In 2008, Eisen served as Deputy General Counsel to President Obama’s transition team. After this, he was appointed special advisor to the president for ethics. In 2011, he became the United States Ambassador to the Czech Republic, a position he currently still holds. The second, Louis Mayberg, is co-founder of mutual fund management firm ProFund Advisors LLC and a major Democratic donor. CREW was founded with the purpose of countering right-leaning groups such as Judicial Watch.
Mark Penn, who was listed as a founding director of CREW, is a former pollster who worked alongside President Bill Clinton for 6 years as an adviser. In 2000, Hillary Clinton brought Penn aboard to serve as an adviser to her senate campaign. In 2008, he became chief strategist to Hillary’s campaign as she was making a run for president. Penn’s wife, Nancy Jacobson, is also deeply entrenched in the left’s movement. Jacobson is a Democratic party fundraiser. Previously, she has worked with Bill Clinton, the Democratic National Committee (DNC), the Democratic Leadership Council, and former Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana.
From 2003 up until now, Melanie Sloan served as the organizations executive director and was more or less the face of the organization. In 1993, Sloan worked for the Nominations Counsel of the Senate Judiciary Committee under then-Sen. Joe Biden, who was chairman at the time. Later, she worked at the Counsel for the Crime Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee, then led by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D- N.Y). Additionally, Sloan has worked on criminal justice issues with Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) while serving as the Minority Counsel for the House Judiciary Committee.
Below are a few examples of past and current employees at CREW.
Deputy Research Director Matt Corley – Former Assistant Editor at the Center for American Progress (Think Progress)
Research Associate David Crockett – Former Research Associate for former Gov. Roy Barnes (D) of Georgia
Communications Director Derrick Crowe – Former Political Director at Brave New Foundation which waspreviously funded by the Democracy Alliance
Former Employees include:
Naomi Seligman – Former deputy director and communications director with CREW. Before that, sheworked at Media Matters for America as communications director — Brock’s group. After CREW, she went on to a top job at FitzGibbon Media.
Lida Masoudpour- Former special projects associate at CREW. In the past, Masoudpour has worked for Media Matters for America, Hillary Clinton, FitzGibbon Media, and had ties to the Democracy Alliance.
As for the groups’ funding over the years, they have received money from far-left groups such as the Tides Foundation, Democracy Alliance, George Soros’ Open Society Institute, and the Arca Foundation. They have been joined on previous campaigns by extreme liberals organizations such as Democracy 21, Public Citizen, Common Cause, Public Campaign, and the Campaign Legal Center.
“CREW gives us some potentially powerful tools in the tool box,” Brock said after it was announced he’d now be leading the group.
For years now, CREW has been run by liberals with deep ties to far-left wing donors. David Brock taking over has just now stripped the “nonpartisan” label the group has tried to maintain since its inception.