CREW's Double Standard

CREW spends far more time conducting serious investigations of Republicans than of Democrats. Often, the extent of CREW’s actions against Democrats involves issuing press releases denouncing them for unethical behavior that had already been uncovered by the media or other groups.

Democrats

Rep. John MurthaRep. John Murtha Embroiled in Abscam probe, accused of earmark corruption.

CREW called on Murtha to step down from his subcommittee and named him one of the most corrupt members of Congress.

Rep. Alan MollohanRep. Alan Mollohan Accused of misrepresentation on financial disclosure forms, earmark corruption.

CREW asked Mollohan to temporarily recuse himself from his committees and named him one of the most corrupt members of Congress.

Sen. Dianne FeinsteinSen. Dianne Feinstein Accused of impropriety over an FDIC contract.

CREW filed a single complaint with the FDIC Inspector General well after other media sources had sounded the alarm.

Republicans

Rep. Tom DeLayRep. Tom DeLay Accused of bribery, money laundering.

CREW filed a House Ethics complaint, a request for investigation with the House, and an FEC complaint against one of DeLay's PACs. Melanie Sloan later says getting rid of DeLay was the most important thing CREW has done.

Sen. Ted StevensSen. Ted Stevens Accused of failing to disclose gifts, earmark corruption.

CREW filed a Senate Ethics complaint, demanded that Stevens step down from his committee assignments, and named him one of the most corrupt members of Congress.

Tom DonohueTom Donohue, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Accused of making illegal campaign donations.

CREW filed an FEC complaint and requested two investigations by the Justice Department.

CREW's Double Standard for Washington Scandals

Rep. John Murtha, Democrat of Pennsylvania, first fell into ethical hot water in the 1980s when he was a target of the Abscam investigation. Murtha was caught on tape turning down a bribe from undercover FBI officials, but saying, "maybe I'll be interested and maybe I won't" in the future. Murtha has also been accused of earmark corruption and steering contracts to institutions that are connected to his friends and family. CREW’s actions against Rep. Jack Murtha consisted of placing him on its annual list of the “Most Corrupt Members of Congress” and creating an interactive graphic on its website detailing Murtha’s web of relationships to corrupt special interests. All the information on this website was already publicly available. CREW added that when new information is revealed, “CREW will add to the graphic.” But there is no evidence that CREW conducted an investigation that generated new revelations about Murtha.

Charles Rangel

CREW treated Rep. Charles Rangel, Democrat of New York, the same way after investigations by newspapers and legal advocacy groups exposed financial improprieties, including unpaid taxes on rental income from a beach house in the Dominican Republic. CREW publicly criticized Rangel and placed him on its “Most Corrupt Members of Congress” list. Later on they called for his resignation. But again as with Murtha, CREW did not conduct its own investigation and added nothing new to the allegations against Rangel.

Tom DelayRepublican members of Congress, on the other hand, have been subjected to far more lengthy and in-depth investigations by CREW. CREW relentlessly went after Rep. Tom DeLay for nearly two years. Between June 2004 and May 2006, CREW filed a complaint against DeLay with the House Ethics Committee, a request to the House to launch a bribery investigation of DeLay, and a FEC complaint against one of his political action committees.

David VitterCREW also waged a campaign against Senator David Vitter, Republican of Louisiana, over his involvement with prostitutes. In July 2007, CREW filed a complaint with the Senate Ethics Committee an investigation over whether Vitter violated the Senate Rules of Conduct. When the committee refused to act, CREW filed a bar complaint with the Louisiana Office of Disciplinary Counsel in September 2009, calling on it to investigate Vitter for professional misconduct.

John EnsignLikewise, CREW aggressively pursued Senator John Ensign, Republican of Nevada. Ensign admitted in June 2009 that he had had an affair with the wife of one of his staff members. Almost immediately, CREW filed complaints with the Senate Ethics Committee and the FEC alleging, among other things, that Ensign improperly used Senate office funds to pay off the staffer and had misused his position as head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. On July 9, CREW filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice asking it to investigate whether Ensign committed crimes in violating federal campaign finance laws. A few months later, CREW followed up by sending supplementary information to both the Senate Ethics Committee and the FBI. In January 2010, the FBI began what appeared to be a preliminary criminal investigation into the John Ensign scandal.

It's a problem to be publicly critical of other people's conduct if you're engaging in that conduct yourself.

- Melanie Sloan on MSNBC