During the wild days of run-away Republican corruption in the last decade a ‘liberal’ group was formed to challenge it. The Group was CREW (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington) and it was suppose to be a Democratic/progressive/liberal answer to the crazy Judicial Watch organization that spent the 1990s hunting Bill Clinton 24/7.
I never really trusted CREW. Something about their endless self-promotion always gave me the creeps. Tonight I read something that helped to explained that feeling.
During the Bush years CREW raised lots of money, filed some interesting Freedom of Information Requests and issued lots and lots of press releases. They were very good at claiming the space of fighting corruption and getting the name of their organization and their Executive Director, Melanie Sloan on the teevee. I think they did some good, but I always thought they held back when it came to the nuts and bolts of fighting corruption. Mostly they seemed to play off the work of others, pivoting off of news stories to promote their organization.
Half a decade ago I met with them to tried to get them to focus on Jack Abramoff’s work to protect the sweatshops and labor abuse on Saipan. I had documents, billing records, witnesses, other details, but they just did not seem to care–unless it was something that the Washington Post was going to write about. Their interest in the Abramoff scandal seemed to be more about fund raising and less about justice. I could never get them to give a rats ass about the Marianas Islands, human trafficking, sweatshops, money laundering and the other forms of corruption that Republican rule protected and allowed to flourish. It just wasn’t news-worthy enough. Eventually I gave up trying to work with them at all and spent my time sharing information with reporters and groups who fought corruption even when it meant zero publicity and zero chance of getting on the teevee.
Still, even a group that is primarily focused on self promotion can sometime do good work and that was the box where I placed CREW. And yet whenever I read a story about CREW or heard their executive director speak, something always seemed off-putting and odd. I found that I had a hard time trusting the organization’s commitment to fighting corruption. And it looks like I was right to feel that way.
Earlier this evening I’m was checking in with Pravda on the Potomac–as I sometimes do to follow the beltway crowd’s spin of the day–and Ben Smith was reporting:
Melanie Sloan, the executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), will join the firm Lanny J. Davis & Associates, she told attendees at the Democracy Alliance summit of liberal donors in Washington D.C. and confirmed in an emailed statement.
“Given the new political climate in Washington, this seems an ideal time to make a transition to private practice,” Sloan said the statement.
Naturally she is leaving the corruption watchdog field just as the Republicans are returning to power and of course she is going to cash in on the coming wave of witch hunts. And more than that, I am somehow not surprised that she will be working with Jack Abramoff’s old pal Lanny Davis. Davis is a long-time corruptionist of Washington DC. Back in the day he used to help Jack plant stories in this or that news outlet, but his ties to Jack are innocent when compared to the rest of his career. Lanny Davis is a perfect example of what is wrong with Washington and that is something that CREW and Sloan would have learned in the last decade had fighting corruption been as important as fundraising and self-promotion.
I’m sure Lanny and Melanie will be on our teevee 24/7 in the coming years to weep like the carpenter and the walrus over the endless scandals being investigated by Issa and his endless witch hunt. I’m sure they will weep as poor staffers and civil servants go deep into debt to pay the fees that Team Lanny demands. And I’m sure that Issa will keep up a steady flow of investigations and more victims of his abuse that will turn to Team Lanny for help–and then be overcharged. It is all part of the great circle of corruption. One wonders which other ‘Democrats/progressive/liberals’ will cash in and join the beltway witch hunt industry in the coming weeks. One wonders who will be fighting Lanny and Melanie for a piece of the action as they all join the feeding frenzy for table scraps tossed by Republican grifters to the shadows below the wing-nut inquisition gravy train.
I knew there was a reason that CREW always kinda gave me the creeps. I guess tonight’s new explains why.