Annual rankings of the “most corrupt” members of Congress and a bi-annual list of the “worst” governors have stopped. A pipeline of in-depth reports on issues ranging from financial markets to timber-industry lobbying has gone dry. The group walked away from a spat over Hillary Clinton’s treatment of e-mails as secretary of state, even after an Inspector General found that CREW’s public records request had been improperly denied.
Many of those projects, according to CREW, were set aside to reorient its focus toward campaign finance violations by political candidates and the outside groups that support them. The shift also coincided with a leadership change in 2014, when CREW, looking to bring on a new board chair with a strong fundraising base, hired David Brock, a Democratic operative with deep ties to liberal donors. That network of contributors has been the force behind a collection of groups that Brock has created to oppose Republicans and conservatives, as well as one devoted to defending Clinton.
Now, CREW shares office space, a board member and fundraising executive with the groups under Brock’s purview, and as a result is intertwined with the kinds of organizations it investigates. Some former staffers say that Brock, who has moved into the vice chairman role, has pulled the watchdog into a partisan agenda and, in doing so, weakened its impact.