Did Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-Tx)*, one of the prominent conservatives in the Republican-led Congress, misuse over $6,000 in campaign funds on a speaking trip to London? Maybe; it sounds like one of those typical gray election law controversies, and one of the lesser ones, except that Gohmert is on a lot of partisan hit lists. If he did misuse the funds, I’d want to see him fined, or whatever the violation warrants, and chastened too.
That’s not my concern right now, though. What interests me is that the alleged misuse of funds was flagged by Citizens For Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, and in reporting it, Mediaite said, in a story headlined, Ethics Watchdog Accuses Gohmert of Misusing Campaign Funds:
“An ethics watchdog group has filed a complaint against Rep. Louie Gohmert, accusing the Texas Republican of misusing campaign funds to foot the bill for a trip to England that included a 5-star hotel and a $200-plus taxi ride.The complaint, filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), was addressed to the staff director and chief counsel of the Office of Congressional Ethics and demands an investigation into whether Gohmert violated House rules by using campaign money for a trip that seemingly had nothing to do with his campaign.”
CREW, as I have repeatedly pointed out for years, is no “ethics watchdog.” CREW has always been more inclined to find fault with Republicans, and now is a part of the Media Matters far left echo chamber. Like the organization it merged with last year after more than a decade of pretending to be non-partisan, its mission is to bolster progressives, their causes and the Democratic Party, and to attack and dig up dirt on Republicans. That doesn’t mean that the dirt it digs up on Republicans isn’t real dirt, or that such dirt shouldn’t be brought to light. It does mean that ethics is not CREW’s goal. Undermining Republicans is. Ethics is just its weapon of choice.The problem is that a clear partisan bias creates a conflict of interests that makes serving as an ethics watchdog ethically impossible.
Since Republicans and Democrats are approximately equal in their ethics violations, electoral or otherwise, a genuine ethics watchdog would find equal fault with members of both parties. CREW never has, and since making professional conservative-basher David Brock the Chairman of its Board of Directors, it can’t credibly pretend to be even-handed. After all, when Brock was asked if CREW would scrutinize misbehaving Democrats, his predictable, Brock-like answer was:,
“Our experience has been that the vast amount of violations of the public trust can be found on the conservative side of the aisle.”
Oh, CREW will use a periodic obviously and hopelessly corrupt Democrat to attack for the purpose of appearing bipartisan: even liberal groups can recognize that, say, Jesse Jackson, Jr. should be shunned. But it’s a partisan group, as its boss’s sentiment proves. I find it difficult to believe that CREW even bothers to deny that any more.
So why is Mediaite, which as news organizations go is pretty fair, allowing its readers to think the this is a genuine, unbiased, non-partisan ethics watchdog calling out Gohmert? (Even Politico called it a “a liberal watchdog group,” which means “we only mind unethical politicians who are conservative.”) Well, Mediaite is strange: it has its conservative-leaning reporters (which are as rare in the news media as snowy owls), and its liberal reporters. I would assume that Andrew Desiderio is one of the latter, but he may just be a lazy reporter. A reader should be informed whether an ethics attack on a Congressman is motivated by an independent group’s sincere desire for integrity in government, or by a Media Matters satellite engaged in fulfilling its assignment to pursue David Brock’s personal vendetta against the right.
Then the reader can make up his or her own mind how serious he should take the story.
*For some reason, I initially had a “D” here. I have no idea why.