Media Matters founder joins watchdog CREW

Democratic operative David Brock has become the chairman of the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).

Brock's arrival appears to be part of a broader shakeup at CREW, with Melanie Sloan, the executive director and longtime leader of the organization, announcing she will step down.

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CREW has a reputation as one of the most aggressive watchdog groups in Washington. The group boasts on its website that it advocates for strengthening and enforcing ethics rules for those in public office and “targeting government officials who sacrifice the common good to special interests.”

Republicans had lambasted CREW as a partisan outfit that does the bidding of Democrats, though the group has made a point over the years of calling out both parties for skirting ethics rules.

With Brock as chairman, it’s unclear whether the group will maintain its bipartisan stance.

Brock founded Media Matters for America, a liberal group that takes aim at conservative media, and the super-PAC American Bridge, which does opposition research for Democrats. He also created The American Independent Institute to support “journalism that exposes the nexus of conservative power in Washington.”

“With public confidence in the institutions of government at an all-time-low, the need for a robust accountability campaign on behalf of the public has never been more urgent,” Brock said in a statement. “Democracy requires honest government.”

Brock joined CREW on Aug. 11, though the move was announced late on Wednesday evening.

The Huffington Post originally reported that Media Matters would be “absorbing” or acquiring CREW, but someone with familiar with both organizations, who could not speak publicly, said the groups will remain separate. 

The two groups “will share a chairman, but this isn't a Media Matters expansion,” the person said.

Meanwhile, Sloan will be “[pursuing] new opportunities,” according to a statement about the transition. She will stay at CREW while the group searches for her replacement.

“By holding those in power accountable for their actions, CREW has served as a critical watchdog and an important voice for ordinary citizens who believe Washington can do better,” she said in a statement. “Given David’s track record of building high-impact sustainable institutions, I am confident that CREW will continue to thrive under this new governance.”
 
Brock praised Sloan’s leadership, saying that the organization has “emerged as an effective voice for the kind of honesty and integrity we deserve in our public officials.”  

“We will build on her record of success, expanding the portfolio to scrutinize more activity in states, and political organizations that wield just as much influence over our policies as our politicians do, if not more,” he said.

Louis Mayberg — CREW’s chairman of the board — will remain a director, while two other members were added: San Francisco-based investor and philanthropist Wayne Jordan and Washington Democratic strategist David Mercer.