Who’s Who at CREW
The idea for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington was conceived by Norman Eisen and Louis Mayberg, two lawyers who often donated to Democratic 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 Democratic 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 Democratic 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.
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 $58,250 to Democratic causes since 1999. He also “bundled” (rounded up money from other individuals) between $200,000 and $500,000 for Obama in 2008.
- 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 Democratic 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 and still serves on its Board of 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 Democratic 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 served as CREW’s executive director since 2003. 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 working in Democratic 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 Democratic 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.
Sloan’s background in liberal and Democratic politics is typical of the CREW staff.
- Noah Bookbinder, Executive Director: Prior to joining CREW, Bookbinder was a staffer for the Obama Administration-appointed United States Sentencing Commission and the Democratic Party staff of the Senate Judiciary Committee under Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont).
- Matt Corley, Research Director: 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.
- Alison Grass, Research Associate: Before working for CREW, Grass was a researcher for left-wing environmentalist group Food and Water Watch.
- Jordan Libowitz, Communications Director: A veteran Democratic operative, Libowitz was a field organizer for the Alaska Democratic Party in the 2008 election cycle and Policy and Research Director for Pennsylvania Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate Joe Sestak in the 2010 cycle.
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 is currently working as a media trainer 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.
- 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 Democratic 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 Democratic Primary. In FEC reports, Mr. Jacob’s listed employer was CREW.
- Jeremy Miller was CREW’s Policy Director. Before joining CREW, Miller advised Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) on banking and health care issues. Miller also worked for various Democratic 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, now Director of External Relations at Democracy Alliance-linked campaign finance regulation advocacy group Issue One, 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. Before this 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 Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin.