CREW Exposed

CREW’s Funding Boost Demonstrates Partisan Nature

It’s been a little while since we checked in with the partisan hacks posing as nonpartisan watchdogs at Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

CREW is still churning out contrived complaints against Republicans, but it’s doing so with renewed vigor following a surge in funding.

CREW’s revenue increased from $1.9 million in 2016 to $7.8 million in 2017 following the unexpected election of Donald Trump. In 2018, revenue dropped slightly to $5.4 million, but is still far above CREW’s revenue before the 2016 election. CREW, which calls itself “small,” also beefed up its staff from 17 to 48, according to tax filings.

That is a good indication that CREW is viewed as a vehicle to launch attacks against Republicans as needed. And sure enough, the desperate, kitchen-sink accusations have been flying since the 2016 election.

CREW was behind a lawsuit against President Trump, accusing him of violating the emoluments clause. The clause prohibits a president from obtaining things of value from a foreign government while in office.

CREW filed the lawsuit in January 2017, but a federal judge dismissed the suit in late 2017. Legal experts have argued that the theory is bunk.

It’s important to note that Trump agreed before taking office that he would maintain ownership of his businesses, but would cede control of them and put his business assets into a trust. The company agreed not to do any foreign business deals while Trump is in office. The Trump Hotel in DC also agreed to donate profits from any foreign guests to the US Treasury to address concerns. But, for those whose job it is to find a reason to complain, such concessions are not good enough.

Undeterred, CREW has also applied some rather tortured logic to claim that Trump has conflicts of interest, publishing over 20 accusations on its website. Let’s take a look.

In one, CREW criticizes the tax cuts signed by President Trump, arguing that tax cuts benefit Trump’s business. Sure. They benefit all businesses. Is CREW arguing that Trump’s businesses be singled out for discriminatory negative treatment?

Moreover, it’s not as if Trump passed a tax cut on his own. The measure had the approval of Congress. Both Republican and Democrat members of Congress own businesses. Yet we haven’t seen similar accusations from CREW against these members.

CREW also criticized a decision to keep the FBI headquarters in its downtown DC location instead of moving it the DC suburbs. Why? CREW says that if the FBI had moved, a hotel “may” have moved into the vacant lot, which could create competition for the Trump Hotel, located near the FBI building.

Arguing about what “may” happen in a hypothetical future makes it clear CREW is grasping at straws. There may be an innocent explanation for not moving the FBI–namely that it could also save taxpayers loads of money and the FBI a lot of hassle–but CREW is in the business of smearing. In a way, it’s the same kind of conspiracy-mongering that you might find in the dark corners of the Internet.

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