Staff and Funding Review Proves Supposed Washington Watchdog Is Still a Liberal Lapdog

CREW dogs adWe’ve repeatedly made the point—including at our website—that Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), ostensibly a “watchdog” group, functions more like a liberal Democratic opposition-research shop. We found that its complaints and actions showed a clear skew against Republicans, even as official bodies’ sanctions were down-the-middle or skewed very slightly Democratic.

When the Democratic establishment’s opposition research czar, David Brock, took over CREW in mid-2014, the case was made even clearer. Now, a new update to our analysis of CREW’s funding and staff backgrounds shows conclusively that CREW isn’t a nonpartisan Washington watchdog, but a cog in the liberal Democratic establishment machine. Indeed, liberal foundations controlled and funded by Democratic megadonors like billionaire financier George Soros, oilman and left-wing activist Leland Fikes, and Getty oil fortune heiress Anne Getty Earheart provided up to 55 percent of CREW’s contribution revenue in 2013 (the most recent year for which complete IRS tax records are available).

The staff too continue to come out of the ranks of Democratic operatives. While former Democratic Senate staff alumna Melanie Sloan has moved on to start her own secretive P.R. firm, her replacement Noah Bookbinder is also a former Democratic senate staffer. Current and former CREW staff have worked for numerous prominent Democrats and liberal groups, including the Center for American Progress’s ThinkProgress affiliate, Food and Water Watch, the Alaska Democratic Party, Media Matters for America, Sen. Jeff Merkeley (D-OR), and the Alliance for Justice, among others.

But CREW’s problems go beyond mere partisanship. In addition to the apparent pay-for-play scheme on behalf of for-profit education titan and liberal megadonor John Sperling that CREW was involved in in the early 2010s, CREW was implicated in a pay-for-play scheme on behalf of one of Sloan’s (then-)clients, nutritional supplement manufacturer Herbalife. Sloan’s new secretive P.R. firm, Triumph Strategy, brags about its ability to enlist allies (presumably including CREW) in its public relations campaigns.

Our review and analysis of CREW’s funding and current and former staff is available at

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