In a major power play that aligns liberal muscle more fully behind the Democratic Party — and Hillary Clinton — the self-described right-wing hitman-turned-Clinton enforcer David Brock is taking over a leading watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.
Brock was elected chairman of the group’s board last week after laying out a multifaceted expansion intended to turn the group into a more muscular — and likely partisan — attack dog, according to sources familiar with the move.
Outgoing executive director Melanie Sloan mostly went after Republicans but criticized some Democrats, too.
That bipartisan focus gave CREW credibility in the watchdog community and made Sloan a go-to quote for reporters, leading Ms. Magazine to ask in 2007 whether she was “The Most Feared Woman on Capitol Hill.” But the take-no-prisoners approach may have complicated efforts to raise money from wealthy Democratic donors. And, in February 2012, the group was demoted from the top tier of recipient organizations recommended by the Democracy Alliance rich liberal donor club during a reshuffling seen as boosting super PACs and other groups closely aligned with Democrats. On the other hand, Brock seems to have a golden touch with rich Democrats, including billionaire financier George Soros.Disclosure is an issue:
Neither CREW nor most of Brock’s groups disclose their donors — something that led to charges of hypocrisy against CREW and other liberal-leaning watchdogs. But anecdotal evidence suggests that there’s a bit of overlap between the donor pools, since Brock’s groups have found great success raising money from Democracy Alliance members. In the CREW shakeup, two donors close to Brock — San Francisco investor Wayne Jordan and Washington-based consultant David Mercer — also joined CREW’s board.
The Huffington Post in its Wednesday afternoon newsletter reported that Media Matters was “acquiring” CREW and quipped “Will It Survive DOJ Antitrust?” but didn’t offer any details on the moves.
Brock deflected when asked if CREW, under his leadership, would continue pursuing complaints against Democrats.