CREW names ‘most corrupt members of Congress,’ critics raise questions

Matthew Boyle Investigative Reporter
Font Size:

The typically left-leaning Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington released its annual “Most Corrupt Members of Congress” report late Monday evening, naming 14 elected officials.

Ten of the members of Congress CREW lists as “most corrupt” are Republicans; just four are Democrats. CREW named Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana, and also attacked Reps. Charles Bass and Frank Guinta of New Hampshire, Vern Buchanan and David Rivera of Florida, Stephen Fincher of Tennessee, Michael Grimm of New York, Hal Rogers of Kentucky, Jean Schmidt of Ohio and Joe Walsh of Illinois.

CREW also marked Democratic Reps. Gregory Meeks of New York, Laura Richardson and Maxine Waters of California, and Nick Rahall of West Virginia for criticism.

“Congressional approval ratings are at an all-time low, and one look at this collection of Washington’s worst shows why,” CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan said in a statement. “Neither political party has a monopoly on shady conduct. In fact, it’s the only thing that seems bipartisan these days.”

CREW also adds five “Dishonorable Mentions” to its menu of complaints, including three Democrats and two Republicans. That added list includes Republican Reps. Joe Barton of Texas and Jeff Denham of California, and Democratic Reps. Shelley Berkley of Nevada, Sanford Bishop of Georgia and Eddie Bernice Johnson of Texas.

To showcase its claims, CREW rolled out a new website with details about each “most corrupt” and “dishonorable” member of Congress. The organization says the members are listed in no particular order, but website visitors are invited to vote for the member they think is the worst.

Washington is split when it comes to CREW’s claim that it is nonpartisan. Some find it to be a helpful watchdog organization and others suggest it is more of a vicious attack dog. The Center for Consumer Freedom recently released “CREW Exposed,” an online report that concluded the organization heavily attacks conservatives. (RELATED: Republican legal group files ethics complaint against Wasserman Schultz)

“An analysis of CREW’s activities demonstrates that it disproportionately targets conservatives by a ratio of more than 8-to-1,” the Center’s site explains. “At the same time, the corresponding federal oversight agencies responsible for investigating CREW’s complaints indicates that, historically, Democrats have been investigated far more often for ethics violations.”

The Capital Research Center’s Fred Lucas points out, too, that CREW has not disclosed its roster of donors. “What is known about CREW’s funding does not cast it in an independent and nonpartisan light,” Lucas wrote. “Two groups affiliated with George Soros have been big contributors to CREW. In a 2006 interview Sloan revealed that the Open Society Institute, a grantmaker founded by Soros, contributed $100,000 to CREW. The Democracy Alliance, another Soros creation, helped launch CREW.”

Even so, CREW does occasionally issue hard-hitting attacks on Democrats. In June, for example, The Daily Caller reported that the organization ripped into Rep. Laura Richardson, who made this year’s “most corrupt” list, for using official taxpayer resources during political events. At the time, Sloan said Richardson “didn’t just violate House rules, she likely committed crimes.”

The Daily Caller plans to report further on CREW’s allegations in the coming days.

Follow Matthew on Twitter

Matthew Boyle