Who’s Who at CREW
The idea for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) was conceived by Norman Eisen and Louis Mayberg, two lawyers who often donated to Democrat causes. Eisen and Mayberg decided they needed a government watchdog to mirror the conservative ethics groups that successfully battled Bill Clinton during the 1990s. Their idea blossomed into CREW, which was born in 2003.
They tapped former Democrat Senate aide Melanie Sloan to run the new organization. Sloan built the group into a major player in the progressive movement, filing numerous charges against the George W. Bush administration and Republicans in Congress. In 2015, she yielded control of CREW to another former Senate Democrat aide, Noah Bookbinder.
In 2014, Clinton machine fixer David Brock was elected chair of the CREW board. Brock runs several SuperPACs and 527 groups with close ties to Hillary Clinton. After the 2016 election cycle, Brock ceded control of the board to Norman Eisen, ostensibly to “ensure [CREW’s] public reputation for non-partisanship.” But a leaked memo published in the Washington Free Beacon detailed Brock’s continued influence over the organization and its role in his network of liberal attack organizations.
One Republican that often signs his name to CREW actions is Vice Chair Richard Painter. However, in August of 2016, he endorsed Hillary Clinton in a much-touted New York Times op-ed.
CREW’s founders were wealthy Democrats
- Norman Eisen is an attorney and a former partner in the law firm Zuckerman Spaeder. After serving as Deputy General Counsel to Barack Obama’s transition team in 2008, he was appointed special advisor to the president for ethics, and then Ambassador to the Czech Republic. Eisen has donated at least $67,500 to Democrat causes since 1999. He also “bundled” (rounded up money from other individuals) between $200,000 and $500,000 for Obama in 2008. In December of 2017, it was announced that he would assume the chairmanship of the CREW board.
- Louis Mayberg is co-founder and current president of ProFund Advisors LLC, a prominent mutual fund management firm. He’s also a donor to the Democrat Party. Mayberg has donated at least $25,850 to Democrats (and to independent Sen. Joe Lieberman) since 1992.
- Daniel Berger is one of CREW’s founding directors. He’s a Philadelphia lawyer with the firm Berger and Montague and a deep-pocketed donor who has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to Democrats over the years.
- Mark Penn is a longtime Democrat pollster and strategist with close ties to Bill and Hillary Clinton. Penn served as Bill Clinton’s pollster for most of his presidency where he became closely involved in policymaking. He also advised Hillary.
To head up CREW, Eisen and company tapped Melanie Sloan. She was the face of the organization until 2015 when she left CREW to found a public affairs firm alongside liberal activist and ProgressNow founder Michael Huttner. Sloan has a long history of working in Democrat politics.
Sloan served as Minority Counsel for the House Judiciary Committee under Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), and as Nominations Counsel for then-Sen. Joe Biden’s (D-DE) Senate Judiciary Committee. She also worked for then-Rep. Charles Schumer (D-NY), on the House Judiciary Committee.
Sloan was confronted about her Democrat activism during an interview on C-SPAN’s “Q&A.” She confessed that she’d been a Democrat in the past, but claimed her time at CREW had reformed her and made her an independent. Sloan is a registered Democrat.
Today’s CREW Looks As Liberal As Ever
Coming back to CREW in December of 2016, Norman Eisen is now the chair of the CREW board. He’s joined by nine others who have all worked for, donated to, or endorsed Democrats or liberal causes. To date, the current board has donated over $6 million to Democrats and liberal PACs. In the 2016 election cycle, the CREW board donated over 200 times more money to the left than to the right. Below are some highlights from the careers of CREW’s board:
- Richard Painter, Vice-Chair: Most notable as an ethics counsel in the George W. Bush administration, Painter has taken up many liberal causes over the years. He endorsed Hillary Clinton in 2016 even after raising various ethical questions about her time at the State Department. He also endorsed Merrick Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court of the United States.
- Al Dwoskin, Chairman Emeritus: A major Democrat donor, Dwoskin and his wife have given over $1.8 million dollars to Democrat candidates and causes over the years. He was also a major donor to the pre-Hillary Clinton 2016 effort “Ready for Hillary.”
- Amy Pope, Board Member: Pope was a “Deputy Assistant to the President” during the Obama Administration.
- Claudine Schneider, Board Member: One of two token Republicans, the former congresswoman endorsed Hillary Clinton in 2016.
- Craig Kaplan, Board Member: Another major Democrat donor, Kaplan has given over $500,000 to Democrats and liberal organizations.
- Hannibal G. Williams II Kemerer, Board Member: Kemerer formerly worked as a counsel at the NAACP.
- John Luongo, Board Member: Luongo has donated over $500,000 to Democrats and liberal organizations according to FEC data. He has also served on the board of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Planned Parenthood Mar Monte.
- Wayne Jordan, Board Member: Based in the Bay Area, Jordan has given over $3 million dollars to Democrat causes. Nearly $700,000 of that went to the David Brock-run American Bridge, which according to the infamous Washington Free Beacon Memo, works in concert with CREW to attack Republicans.
- Zephyr Teachout, Board Member: Originally from Vermont, Teachout won the Democrat nomination for New York’s 19th Congressional District in 2016 but ultimately lost. She has close associations with leftist presidential candidates Lawrence Lessig and Bernie Sanders.
As of October 2017, 19 of 23 employees listed on CREW’s website have previously worked for Democrat campaigns, administration, or other left-wing groups. Below are some highlights from the highest ranks of CREW’s staff:
- Noah Bookbinder, Executive Director: Prior to joining CREW, Bookbinder was a staffer for the Obama Administration-appointed United States Sentencing Commission and the Democrat Party staff of the Senate Judiciary Committee under Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont).
- Arielle Linsky, Chief Operating Officer: Before joining CREW in July 2017, Linksky had several stints working for Democrat campaigns, like Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential run, and liberal organizations like Planned Parenthood.
- Matt Corley, Chief Investigator: CREW Research Director Matt Corley previously wrote for the Center for American Progress’s ThinkProgress website. His posts were often dedicated to attacking Republican officeholders and conservative commentators.
- Anne Weismann, Chief FOIA Counsel: A long time counsel, Weismann has ties to Democrats dating back to the Carter Administration when she worked for the Labor Department.
- Virginia Canter, Executive Branch Ethics Counsel: An old Democrat hand, Canter worked as a White House Associate Counsel to Presidents Obama and Clinton.
- Laura Beckerman, Pro Bono Coordinating Counsel: After law school, Beckerman joined the Obama Department of Justice as a trial attorney.
- Jordan Libowitz, Communications Director: A veteran Democrat operative, Libowitz was a field organizer for the Alaska Democratic Party in the 2008 election cycle and policy and research director for Pennsylvania Democrat candidate for U.S. Senate Joe Sestak in the 2010 cycle.
- Brandon Brokmyer, Research Director: Before pursuing a PhD, Brokmyer worked for the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative in the “Internal Office of President Clinton.”
Many CREW alumni were also culled from left-wing organizations and offices:
- Naomi Seligman is a former deputy director and communications director at CREW. She previously served as communications director for Media Matters for America, a left-wing media watchdog. Seligman left CREW to work with the liberal group Consumer Watchdog, and later worked for shuttered left-wing PR firm FitzGibbon Media.
- Lida Masoudpour is a former special projects associate at CREW. She has worked for liberal religious group Auburn Theological Seminary after a period as deputy director at Media Matters for America. Previously, she served as Special Advisor to the President and Managing Director at the Democracy Alliance, a prominent CREW donor. Masoudpour was also a research associate for Hillary Clinton for President and interned in Clinton’s Senate office.
- Alison Grass was a researcher for left-wing environmentalist group Food and Water Watch before joining CREW.
- Kimberly Perkins is a former counsel with CREW. Before that she was Assistant General Counsel in the national office of the NAACP. Perkins also worked for the National Labor Relations Board.
- Anne Bowman is CREW’s former Senior Research Associate and Intern Coordinator. Prior to joining CREW, Bowman worked for 3rd Coast Research, a Democrat political consulting firm.
- Matt Jacob, a former CREW Communications Director, contributed $550 to left-wing U.S. Senate candidate Bill Halter of Arkansas who was challenging incumbent Senator Blanche Lincoln in the 2010 Democrat Primary. In FEC reports, Mr. Jacob’s listed employer was CREW.
- Jeremy Miller was CREW’s Policy Director. Before joining CREW, Miller advised Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) on banking and health care issues. Miller also worked for various Democrat senators on the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, including Fritz Hollings (SC), Daniel Inouye (HI), Paul Wellstone (MN), and Barbara Boxer (CA).
- Robin Powers has worked as the Director of External Relations at Democracy Alliance-linked campaign finance regulation advocacy group Issue On and was formerly CREW’s Deputy Director. She previously worked for the Alliance for Justice, a liberal judicial advocacy group. Powers also interned with the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois.
- Adam Ratliff was a communications associate at CREW. Previously, he held jobs with the Justice Policy Institute (a group dedicated to decreasing incarceration rates) and the Earth Day Network.
- Dan Stevens was a research associate at CREW and previously worked for Democrat Sen. Tom Harkin.