Richard Painter Is No Republican

Richard Painter YouTube screenshot/BBC Newsnight

Jamey Bowers Senior vice president at Berman and Company, a Washington, D.C public affairs firm
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Richard Painter, a former White House ethics lawyer, recently announced the formation of an exploratory committee as he considers a U.S. Senate bid in Minnesota. It’s telling that Painter declined to run as the Republican he has long claimed to be, considering instead an independent bid.

While Painter is often described as an “ethics lawyer under former President George W. Bush” and a “prominent Republican critic of President [Trump],” he’s working for a group that is really just a critic of any Republican. In recent years, he served as Vice-Chairman of Citizens of Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), one of Washington’s most partisan attack groups. While CREW bills itself as a “non-profit, non-partisan” watchdog, the organization routinely targets Republicans and right-leaning groups with often-frivolous lawsuits, ethics complaints, and petitions for government investigations of their targets.

In 2014, CREW gave its chairmanship to David Brock, a notorious Clinton ally who has founded several left-wing super PACs. After the 2016 election, Brock ceded control of the board to former Obama official Norman Eisen to purportedly “ensure [CREW’s] public reputation for non-partisanship,” but Brock remains involved with the group’s activities.

He’s not the only Democrat involved. In fact, the entirety of CREW’s board is made up of prominent Democrats and Hillary Clinton supporters. Several board members have given more than $500,000 each to Democratic candidates and other liberal organizations.

CREW’s political bias is reflected in its day-to-day operations. An analysis of CREW’s activities reveals it disproportionately targets congressional Republicans by a more than nine-to-one margin. Between March 2004 and September 2017, CREW filed 53 complaints with the Federal Election Commission (FEC), of which 81 percent targeted Republican officials or right-leaning groups. In its December fundraising pitch for 2018, CREW only touted noteworthy actions against Republicans, including Hatch Act complaints against the Trump administration and the securing of an FEC fine against a conservative super PAC.

Of course, CREW fundraisers left out the group’s fruitless ethics lawsuit against the Trump administration. In 2017, CREW claimed President Trump’s “vast, complicated, and secret” business interests present conflicts of interest and violate the U.S. Constitution. A federal judge disagreed, dismissing the lawsuit.

Nonetheless, CREW marches on, attacking President Trump and other Republicans at every turn. Upon announcing his exploratory Senate committee, Painter criticized “the Republican Party [for turning] sharply to the right on social issues ranging from abortion to guns to gay rights.”

This is the same Richard Painter who endorsed Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election, calling her the “only qualified major party candidate in the race.” Painter even dismissed allegations levied against the beleaguered Clinton Foundation, claiming she “has asked and successfully answered those questions.”

Spoken like a true liberal attack dog. Ironically, Painter unleashes such political rants on the taxpayer’s dime. He has been a professor at University of Minnesota Law School since 2007, regurgitating Democratic talking points while simultaneously teaching public-school students about ethics.

Minnesotans should ask themselves: Is it ethical for a Democrat to masquerade as a Republican while smearing others with unfounded claims?

Jamey Bowers serves as senior vice president at Berman and Company, a public affairs firm in Washington, D.C.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.