Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Live, Local, Lazy Reporting

The AP and WBAL TV are reporting that the “watchdog” groups Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington or CREW filed a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission over Baltimore developer Edward St. John’s contributions to the Maryland GOP and Michael Steele’s 2006 Senate campaign.

The St. John story is old news.

However, what concerns me is CREW, and the AP reporter’s inaccurate labeling of what the organization is. CREW is indeed a watchdog site, but it is a left leaning and despite it’s claims a largely partisan watchdog site. It exclusively targets Republicans in its FEC complaints. CREW’s concern for ethics also appears situational. For example in May of 2004 it filed an FEC complaint against ATF chief Grover Norquist and then RNC Chair Ken Mehlman because Norquist allegedly shared a list of conservative activists with Mehlman. However, CREW could not be bothered to file a complaint on a similar violation involving Barack Obama and an ACORN affiliate.

To be sure Crew has made a stink about John Murtha and William Jefferson, but their malfeasance is so blatant that not CREW could ignore it. And the fact remains that CREW’s targets are predominately Republicans.

A look through CREW’s IRS 990 forms, via Guidestar, shows that it has operating funds in the millions of dollars. However, you don’t know where the money comes from. The reason for that is because CREW’s main donors do not want their identities disclosed. CREW is funded by members of the secretive Democracy Alliance. According to a 2006 Washington Post story:


A year after its founding, Democracy Alliance has followed up on its pledge to become a major power in the liberal movement. It has lavished millions on groups that have been willing to submit to its extensive screening process and its demands for secrecy.

These include the Center for American Progress, a think tank with an unabashed partisan edge, as well as Media Matters for America, which tracks what it sees as conservative bias in the news media. Several alliance donors are negotiating a major investment in Air America, a liberal talk-radio network.

But the large checks and demanding style wielded by Democracy Alliance organizers in recent months have caused unease among Washington's community of Democratic-linked organizations. The alliance has required organizations that receive its endorsement to sign agreements shielding the identity of donors. Public interest groups said the alliance represents a large source of undisclosed and unaccountable political influence…

The goal was to invest in groups that could be influential in building what activists call "political infrastructure" -- institutions that can support Democratic causes not simply in the next election but for years to come.

Those who make the cut have prospered. The Center for American Progress (CAP), which is led by former Clinton White House chief of staff John Podesta, received $5 million in the first round because it was seen as a liberal version of the Heritage Foundation, which blossomed as a conservative idea shop in the Reagan years, said one person closely familiar with alliance operations. CAP officials declined to comment.

Likewise, a Democracy Alliance blessing effectively jump-started Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). It bills itself as a nonpartisan watchdog group committed to targeting "government officials who sacrifice the common good to special interests." Alliance officials see CREW as a possible counterweight to conservative-leaning Judicial Watch, which filed numerous lawsuits against Clinton administration officials in the 1990s. A CREW spokesman declined to comment.



Situational ethics and responsibility indeed. CREW does not appear to be interested in filing complaints about the campaign finance schemes devised by it's own funders.

Other Democracy Alliance funding recipients include the Sierra Club, People for the American Way EMILY’s List, Progressive Majority and… wait for it… ACORN.

George Soros and progressive millionaire activist Tim Gill planted the seed money for Democracy Alliance, and the donor list is a who’s who among the constellation of financiers of left wing advocacy groups. The SEIU is an institutional member and according to the Post report pays a $50,000 annual fee and agrees to spend at least $1 million annually on “alliance backed efforts.”

CREW’s executive director, Melanie Sloan, is a former counsel for prominent congressional Democrats John Conyers, Chuck Schumer and then senator Joe Biden. Deputy Director and Communications Director Naomi Seligman was Media Matters former communications chief. Prior to joining CREW, senior investigator Ryan Jham’s previous job was with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Furthermore, the CREW press release also noticeably omits the identification of the Maryland state candidates St. John “contemporaneously” contributed to in 2006. Those candidates would be the Democrat Governor of Maryland, Martin O’Malley and the Democrat Baltimore County Executive, Jim Smith.

It took me all of 20 minutes to find this information on this new fangled Internets. Wouldn’t the fact of CREW’s progressive funding sources and staffing by partisans at least lead to the AP reporter to mention that to provide an accurate picture? The least the reporter could do was insert an adjective or two (left leaning, liberal) that accurately describes CREW.

Does anyone seriously think that if it was Judicial Watch filing a complaint against Peter Lewis or Goerge Soros the AP would not have slapped the “conservative” label in the lede. Of course not, because, in 2007 the AP did exactly that:


WASHINGTON (AP) — A conservative public interest group has sued the National Archives to obtain records from Hillary Rodham Clinton's tenure as head of a White House task force on health care during her husband's administration.

Judicial Watch, which has been seeking access to Clinton's White House records since April 2006, announced the filing of the lawsuit on Monday claiming the National Archives has failed to make records available or to indicate when access to the records would be allowed.


Oh well, MSM

1 comment:

Chester Peake said...

Mark-
At least Liam Farrell's article in the Capital today acknowledged St. John's financial ties to Democrats Janet Owens, Martin O'Malley, and Jim Smith. However, the article did not note CREW's left-leanings.

Chester

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