Opinion

The CREW farce

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Rick Berman
Executive Director, Center for Union Facts
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      Rick Berman

      Rick Berman is the President of Berman and Company, a Washington, D.C.–based public affairs firm specializing in research, communications, and creative advertising.
      Berman has founded several leading non-profit organizations which are known for their fact-based research and their aggressive communications campaigns.
      A long-time consumer advocate, Rick Berman champions individual responsibility and common sense policy. He believes that democracies require an informed public from all sides.
      Berman and Company has received dozens of national awards for its creativity and cutting edge work. In the past two years alone Berman and Company has earned over 30 awards for its work in television, print, and radio advertisements and crisis communications.
      Rick Berman has appeared on all major television networks and has organized national coalitions on a variety of issues.

The congressional “watchdog” and supposedly nonpartisan Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) should put a disclaimer on its website saying that it doesn’t hold itself to the standards it espouses. In fact, the only accurate part of its name is “Washington.”

CREW executive director Melanie Sloan has been busy this election cycle laying a smoke screen for Democrats and the Obama administration. Most recently she denounced Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) for “leaking” government information by placing it in the Congressional Record.

Sloan’s claim that Issa has a “double standard” about which information should be released to the public is laughably ironic in light of CREW’s own record. In recent years, fewer than 15 percent of CREW’s complaints filed with the Federal Election Commission have hit Democrats and left-leaning groups, while 76 percent have hit Republicans and center-right groups. Sloan tries to play her organization off as an impartial watchdog, but it’s really nothing more than a liberal attack dog.

Sloan was so busy expressing her faux outrage over Rep. Issa that she “missed” an even bigger ethics story that broke late last month. A House Energy and Commerce Committee report revealed that the Obama administration and the president’s campaign manager, Jim Messina, have gone out of their way to get around disclosure rules and negate the administration’s often-repeated claim to be “the most transparent administration in history.”

The Huffington Post’s Sam Stein specifically called out CREW’s notable absence from the discussion about the administration’s ethical breach:

Interest groups and lawmakers who were critical of the Bush administration email controversy also were mum on the Obama revelations. The office of Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), who criticized the Bush administration on the Senate floor for hiding emails, did not return a request for comment on Wednesday. Nor did the group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, which produced a report on the Bush email controversy.

“What we have learned from our many investigations is that, time and again, the Obama administration’s actions have failed to match the president’s lofty rhetoric on transparency,” said Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.), the chairman of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, in a statement accompanying the report.

While Sloan was too busy to comment on the report, CREW did manage to attack Rep. Stearns by filing records requests seeking information on earmarks he helped secure for the College of Central Florida, where his wife works. Instead of going after the un-transparent actions of the Democratic administration, CREW went after the Republican who helped bring the actions to light.

The timing of CREW’s attack is suspect at best. But it makes sense when you look at CREW’s history and funders.

Sloan often attacks 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) organizations for declining to disclose their donors, yet she refuses to disclose CREW’s — also a 501(c)(3).

“I wouldn’t have any donors if I revealed all my donors,” Sloan said in an interview with Time magazine. Pot, meet kettle.

Fortunately, nonprofit tax returns are a matter of public record, so we are able to see some of CREW’s funders. CREW is funded by a long list of left-wing organizations and foundations. George Soros’ Open Society Institute gave $250,000 to CREW in 2008, a sizeable chunk of CREW’s $3 million revenue that year. Soros is a well-known funder of left-wing nonprofit groups. Other beneficiaries of Soros’ money include the Center for American Progress, Media Matters for America, America Coming Together, and MoveOn.org. In 2008, CREW received nearly $1.8 million — more than half of its total revenue — from 14 foundations, all of them known for funding left-leaning political causes.

There’s a reason people hate politics as usual in Washington, D.C. It’s because of people like Melanie Sloan.

Rick Berman is the president and CEO of Berman and Company. To find out more information on CREW, visit CREWExposed.com.