A recent investigation of the Super PACs supporting Democrat Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid also highlighted big changes for a Washington watchdog group that has focused significant attention on New Mexico.
The Center for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), which has a history of watchdogging New Mexico politicians, has been taken over by a man who also leads or advises “several of the big-money groups crucial to the Clinton-for-president effort,” The Center for Public Integrity recently reported. Many former CREW staffers say that Clinton ally, David Brock, has “defanged” the “prominent, nonpartisan watchdog group that helped lay groundwork for what’s become the Clinton email server scandal,” The Center reported.
In the past, CREW has placed U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce, former Rep. Heather Wilson and former Sen. Pete Domenici — all New Mexico Republicans — on a list of people it believes are the most corrupt members of Congress. It filed formal complaints against them alleging ethics violations.
CREW’s hammering of former Gov. Richardson is significant because of the group’s nonpartisan status. In 2010 the group said the Democrat allowed pay-to-play scandals to plague his administration, rewarded allies with state investments and jobs, and failed to make New Mexico government more transparent. He was one of two Democrats — and 11 governors total — CREW criticized that year.
The group has always gone after more Republicans than Democrats. But before Brock took over, Democrats weren’t immune to its criticism. From The Center’s article:
“And it was CREW, in December 2012, that filed a Freedom of Information Act request demanding U.S. State Department officials cough up information about email accounts Clinton used as secretary of state — an action that helped give wings to what, this election, has become Clinton’s unshakable political albatross.”
Then Brock took over. These days, CREW isn’t going after Democrats with such fervor. From The Center for Public Integrity article:
But after Brock became CREW’s chairman in August 2014, co-founder and Executive Director Melanie Sloan tendered her resignation. She officially quit in January 2015. And since Sloan departed, CREW has all but ignored liberal politicos.
Not so with conservatives: CREW has filed more than 20 formal complaints against various Republican politicians, Republican operatives or right-leaning political groups, a Center for Public Integrity review of CREW’s publicly disclosed activities indicates.
CREW’s most notable public actions against Democrats since January 2015 are comparatively tepid: It filed one complaint against a Democratic-aligned organization — a nonprofit supporting Jersey City, New Jersey, Mayor Steven Fulop — and scolded federally indicted Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., and Rep. Chaka Fattah, D-Pa., in statements.
Today Brock is vice chairman of CREW’s board. Two other board members have close ties to Clinton, including CREW’s chairman, Albert Dwoskin, who “has donated more than $15,400 to Clinton’s campaigns and pro-Clinton political committees over the years, federal records indicate,” according to The Center.
“That includes $2,700 — the legal maximum — to Clinton’s presidential campaign in April 2015,” The Center reported. “That also includes more than $10,700 worth of office space he contributed in-kind to Ready for Hillary PAC during 2013.”
CREW’s offices moved last year, and are now located in the same building as two pro-Clinton Super PACs — Correct the Record and American Bridge 21st Century.