The Center for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington does almost half a great job in its stated role as a government ethics watchdog. The supposedly non-partisan group is obviously partisan, since it goes after unethical Republican officials with frequency and relish while targeting unethical Democrats with infrequency and reluctance. CREW’s complaints, however, are almost always well-supported and legitimate. Why almost half a great job? CREW can’t be as effective in its efforts to expose unethical Republican conduct as it needs to be because its obvious bias makes the organization’s motives and judgment less trustworthy and more vulnerable to attack.
We have a perfect example in the news. “The Hill” reports that CREW….
“…has asked the Office of Congressional Ethics to investigate whether Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) violated rules by producing a video that attacks President Obama. The video, titled “Obama State Dinners: Spend Like He Says, Not Like He Does,” compares Obama’s denouncement of a lavish $840,000 General Services Administration conference in Las Vegas to two expensive State Department dinners that hosted leaders from India and Mexico and included a performance by the singer Beyoncé. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) alleges that Issa, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, misused government resources for political purposes in making the video, which the group describes as “nothing more than a negative political advertisement against President Obama. The attack ad offers no information about any action whatsoever by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform,” CREW wrote in its letter to OCE. “In fact, the only purpose of the ad — particularly given its release just days before a hotly contested presidential election — is to attempt to elicit outrage against the president for holding state dinner at a time when Americans are facing fiscal difficulties.” The video was made by the committee and posted on the committee’s YouTube channel.”
Good job, CREW. Its complaint is obviously right on target: Rep. Issa used his committee’s funds to make what was really a partisan campaign video. Here’s Issa’s retort, through his spokesman:
“CREW is funded by anonymous liberal donors seeking to further a partisan political agenda against meaningful oversight of this administration,” said Watkins in a statement. “Independent reviews of the organization have found that its complaints lack credibility. This frivolous complaint, like others CREW has made at the behest of their far-left benefactors against Chairman Issa, has no merit.”
He’s right; CREW is hardly an objective observer, and as a constant gadfly who likes to bite Democrats, Issa would figure to be on a liberal group’s hit list. Nevertheless, Issa is guilty as charged, and attacking the accuser as a first response provides a strong hint that the Congressman knows it. How much better it would be if The Center for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington established unimpeachable credibility as a truly non-partisan ethics watchdog, by being as vigilant when Democrats abuse their position and power—like, just as one random example pulled out of the air, when a Democratic President spends more money on lavish state dinners than any previous White House squire at a time of record deficits and falling household income.
Facts: The Hill