David Brock’s CREW, A Watchdog That Doesn’t Bite

YouTube screen grab.

Chuck Ross Investigative Reporter
Font Size:

If Anne Weismann was still chief counsel at the progressive watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), she says that without a doubt she would have hit back at the State Department for improperly denying her December 2012 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for information on Hillary Clinton’s emails accounts.

But Weismann is no longer at CREW. David Brock, an ardent Clinton supporter, runs the show there now — that is, when one of his other projects, the super PAC Correct the Record, is not coordinating with the former secretary of state’s presidential campaign.

“Absolutely, I would have,” Weismann told The Daily Caller on Wednesday when asked if she would have spoken out about the faulty FOIA response, which State’s inspector general, Steven Linick, said in a report released earlier this month was “inaccurate and incomplete.”

TheDC reached out to Weismann to compare her reaction to State’s erroneous denial — which it issued in May 2013 — to CREW’s and Brock’s deafening silence. (RELATED: Scathing IG Report On Hillary Email Account Puts David Brock In A Bind)

Weismann told TheDC in a phone interview that she had no idea that Clinton was using an off-the-books personal email account and private server when she filed her request for “records sufficient to show the number of email accounts of or associated with Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton, and the extent to which those emails are identifiable as those of or associated with Secretary Clinton.”

She filed similar FOIAs to several federal agencies after the revelation that Environmental Protection Agency official Lisa Jackson was emailing under the pseudonym “Richard Windsor.”

But the State Department’s decision to deny Weismann’s request — which at one point was handled by Clinton’s then-chief of staff, Cheryl Mills — bolsters the arguments made by Clinton’s critics who have argued that, among other things, her use of a home-brew server and personal email account allowed her to skirt FOIA requests for her records.

And CREW’s and Brock’s non-response to Clinton’s and the State Department’s email shenanigans undermines the part of CREW’s mission statement which reads: “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.”

“I think it’s absolutely within CREW’s wheelhouse and I would have commented and probably expressed my great disappointment that the response was as inaccurate as it was,” said Weismann, who served as CREW’s interim executive director for a short time last year before leaving to form another government watchdog, the Campaign for Accountability.

In addition to the inaccurate denial, the inspector general’s report also identified Mills as a key figure who allowed Weismann’s FOIA request to lapse. Mills was informed of Weismann’s FOIA request in December 2012 and tasked it out to a staffer, the inspector general found. And though Mills, like other State Department officials, knew of Clinton’s unorthodox email arrangement, she appears not to have informed the FOIA office.

“I do believe that Cheryl Mills had an obligation to correct the response … because she knew that was false,” Weismann told TheDC.

“She knew about the FOIA request, and yet she allowed the State Department to continue with its no-records response.”

Contrast Weismann’s position with that of the Brock-led CREW. The normally outspoken Brock has not acknowledged the inspector general’s report. He also did not respond to TheDC’s emailed request for comment.

CREW’s press shop is also silent. A spokesman there initially indicated that a statement would be provided. But after days of stonewalling, he finally told TheDC on Tuesday that it was refusing to comment.

Brock and Co. aren’t alone in their aversion to the issue of how the State Department handled Weismann’s FOIA request. The agency itself declined for months to answer questions about its faulty FOIA processes and its demonstrably false denials of requests for Clinton emails. (RELATED: State Department Refuses To Say How It Handled Records Requests For Hillary’s Emails)

Follow Chuck on Twitter