One of the nation’s most prominent ethics watchdog organizations, which touted its willingness to expose political “scoundrels” regardless of party affiliation, will now answer to a Democratic operative and Clinton defender.
David Brock, founder of the liberal Media Matters and head of a Democratic-leaning fundraising organization, has been named the new chairman of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, the group announced Thursday.
CREW also said longtime executive director Melanie Sloan would be leaving.
While some conservatives have long insisted the group was aligned with liberals, the watchdog organization did investigate and file ethics complaints against Democrats.
The organization’s annual “Most Corrupt” members of Congress list included prominent Democrats such as Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Rep. Gregory W. Meeks of New York.
But the prospect of a partisan Democrat at the top, combined with Ms. Sloan’s departure, raises questions about whether the ethics watchdog will turn a blind eye to Democratic misdeeds and focus only on Republicans.
A spokesman for CREW, Mark Glaze, said the organization won’t tolerate misconduct regardless of party affiliation, but he also said CREW would review all of its operations in the coming months.
For her part, Ms. Sloan, a former federal prosecutor who has run CREW for the past 12 years, said Mr. Brock “shares CREW’s concern about accountability in government.”
“It was obviously important to everyone at CREW and on CREW’s board that it be a continued focus of the organization, and David shares the believe that there’s no place for corruption in government and that political leaders need to be held accountable,” she said.
“But might there be a shift down the line? I think I’ve run it one way for 12 years and I think David has shown an ability to grow organizations to a larger scale, and I think he may be able to take it in new and interesting directions that I haven’t thought of,” she said.
Two other persons with deep Democratic ties were named to CREW’s board on Thursday: San Francisco real estate investor Wayne Jordan and political consultant David Mercer.
In a news release, Mr. Brock, the founder of a political action committee himself, said CREW would expand its portfolio to scrutinize “political organizations that wield just as much influence over our policies as our politicians do, if not more.”
Early in his career Mr. Brock was a self-described conservative. He filed editorials for The Washington Times, worked for The Times’ magazine Insight, and later moved to the American Spectator, where he gained prominence writing stories attacking President Clinton.
He said he had a political evolution, detailed in his book “Blinded by the Right: The Conscience of an Ex-Conservative,” that saw him become a major Clinton defender and backer of liberal Democratic causes.