About CREW ......................................... 1 Letter from Chief Counsel .................... 2 Building Transparency Policies and Practices .....................................3–4 Holding Public Officials Accountable .. 5 In-Depth Investigative Reports ............ 6 CREW in the News ................................ 7 Online Projects ..................................... 8 Partnerships and Outreach .................. 9 Financial Information .......................... 10


Who We Are

REW uses the legal system to restore public trust in government by targeting corrupt and unethical government officials who sacrifice the common good to special interests. CREW also uses litigation to

develop and promote government transparency.

Since its inception in 2003, CREW has played a key role in exposing the culture of corruption in Washington and motivating the public and policymakers to change it. CREW accomplishes this through: • High impact legal actions including lawsuits, Freedom of Information Act requests, ethics complaints, Federal Election Commission complaints, Internal Revenue Service complaints, and Department of Justice complaints; • Exhaustively investigated reports to educate the public and influence public discourse and policy; • Comprehensive communications strategy to maximize media coverage and mobilize public support for reform; and • Collaboration with organizations from across the political spectrum to foster an open and accountable government. History shows us that those who have power often abuse it. CREW serves as a check on those in power, holding government officials accountable for their actions.

“We have no counterpart to [Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington]…”
Jim Ellis, a former political adviser to former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay

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rom its inception, CREW has used the legal system to hold the government accountable. Because transparency strengthens our democracy, CREW has spent the past year pursuing litigation to shed light on our government’s activities. CREW’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits have focused on such diverse topics as access to White House visitor records, disclosure of the interview Vice President Dick Cheney gave to the FBI as part of its investigation into the leak of Valerie Plame Wilson’s covert CIA identity, the disappearance of millions of Bush-era emails from White House servers, and efforts by the Bush administration to distort the scientific evidence of global warming. Given the Obama administration’s commitment to transparency and accountability, CREW frequently works with—rather than against—the administration. In response to CREW’s FOIA lawsuits for records of White House visits by top coal and health care executives, the Obama White House (with a little prodding) reversed the course set by the Bush administration by releasing the requested records and agreeing to disclose nearly all visitor records on a rolling basis. CREW worked closely with the White House to reach this compromise, establishing the foundation for a cooperative relationship going forward. This has allowed CREW to weigh in with suggestions as to how the executive branch can foster a culture of transparency. Yet there are battles still to fight. The Department of Justice resisted producing notes of an interview Vice President Cheney gave to the FBI as part of its leak investigation, but eventually did so under court order. CREW has made progress in convincing the White House to disclose thousands of pages documenting the missing email problem, but is still concerned about the process the Executive Office of the President is using to identify and restore the missing emails. And CREW is fighting to bring more transparency to the lending practices of the Federal Reserve Board at a time when public confidence in our economy has been deeply shaken. This is not a time for complacency; much work remains to transform the new administration’s policies of transparency and accountability into concrete results. CREW will continue to be part of that process and to work with other open government groups, historians, and Congress to ensure preservation of our government’s records. With your continued support we can usher in a truly open government.

Anne Weismann CREW Chief Counsel

“Democracy requires accountability, and accountability requires transparency.”
President barack Obama, January 2009

Note from Executive Director: resulting in L itigation g reater gove rn ment tra has been a s nsparency ignificant p art of CR EW over the pas ’s portfolio t year. Ch ie f counsel A Weisma n n n ne has been t he arch itec litigation str t of CR E W ateg y so I h ’s ave left it to describe ou her to r legal accom plishments. also has bee But CR EW n busy on o ther fronts, to target un producing h continuing ethical mem ard-hitting bers of Con reports and misconduct gress, and websites fo . With your cused on gov help, 2009 year. We co ernment has been an uldn’t do it w active, succ ithout you. T essful hank you fo r your supp ort. Mela n ie Slo an Exec utive D irec tor

Anne Weismann CREW Chief Counsel

Historic settlement Leading to Disclosure of White House Visitor Records After years of litigation seeking access to White House visitor records, CREW and the Obama administration reached a historic settlement. The White House not only provided CREW with all the records sought, but more importantly agreed to post the vast majority of visitor records online, allowing all Americans to see who is influencing White House policy. The agreement stems from four lawsuits CREW filed against the Bush and Obama administrations seeking access under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to specified White House visitor records. The two Bush-era lawsuits involved requests for records of visits by leading conservative religious leaders and lobbyist Stephen Payne, while the two Obama-era lawsuits involved requests for records of visits by top coal and health care executives. Although a district court had ruled the records in the Bush cases had to be released, the Department of Justice (DOJ) had appealed and refused to change its position when the administration changed. Eventually, CREW was able to work with the Obama White House to reach a settlement giving the public unprecedented access to learn who is influencing White House policy. Victory in Obtaining Records of Cheney fbi interview On October 1, 2009, a federal court ordered DOJ to turn over to CREW most of the records of the interview former Vice President Cheney gave to the FBI as part of Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald’s investigation into the leak of Valerie Plame Wilson’s covert CIA identity. DOJ claimed the records were exempt from disclosure because releasing them might deter future high level White House officials from cooperating with law enforcement investigations, and that such information might be used to embarrass officials on late night television (what we refer to as the “Daily Show defense”), but the court rejected this argument. On October 30, most of the records were released except for portions reflecting internal deliberations and communications between the president and vice president. The FBI’s interview notes demonstrate Mr. Cheney has an extremely selective memory, but the release of the records is a step in revealing to the public and the Wilsons the degree to which Mr. Cheney and other former White House officials abused their power for political gain, destroying Ms. Wilson’s career and endangering national security. CREW Obtains Documentation of Missing White House Email CREW has been working with the Obama administration to settle its lawsuit against the Executive Office of the President based on the failure of the Bush administration to preserve and restore millions of email missing from White House servers. The White House has provided CREW thousands of pages of documents about the missing email problem and the reaction of the Bush White House to the discovery. CREW is consulting with the White House on the restoration of the missing email and is working to ensure an effective system is in place to preserve White House electronic records. Transparency in financial Regulation The state of the economy and the many missteps by financial regulators make transparency in any recovery effort

eH WhitWolf, September 4, 2009

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especially critical. Toward that end, CREW has sued the Federal Reserve Board for refusing to release documents identifying those troubled financial institutions that have utilized the Board’s short-term lending facilities. CREW is also examining the systemic problems that led to the Security and Exchange Commission enforcement division’s catastrophic failure to investigate Bernie Madoff’s ponzi scheme despite warnings. friend of the Court briefs CREW has filed friend of court (or amicus) briefs in three significant cases. CREW filed an amicus brief in support of the DOJ in a Supreme Court case in which the honest services fraud statute has been challenged. Although the case before the Court involves the prosecution of corporate executives who looted their company, based on comments by Justice Antonin Scalia, CREW fears the Court might declare the entire statute unconstitutional. CREW argued without this statute, prosecution of public corruption would be much more difficult. CREW filed another amicus brief in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

supporting the DOJ’s interpretation of a provision of the Federal Election Campaign Act after a lower court dismissed an indictment finding the Act only prohibited making a contribution under a false name, not reimbursing others who made contributions under their own names. CREW argued this decision runs counter to nearly 40 years of precedent and, if allowed to stand, would have a disastrous impact on the ability of the Justice Department and the Federal Election Commission to enforce federal campaign finance laws. Finally, CREW filed an amicus brief in an Arizona district court in support of the DOJ after Rep. Rick Renzi (R-AZ) argued that because the FBI had incidentally overheard legislative material when listening to his telephone calls under a court ordered wiretap, the entire indictment had to be thrown out. CREW argued the Speech or Debate Clause of the Constitution prohibits the government from using legislative material to obtain an indictment or a conviction, but not from merely overhearing such information. The magistrate judge agreed, but Rep. Renzi has appealed.

“CREW is fearless in taking on powerful government officials, forcing politicians to behave ethically and putting our interests ahead of their own.”
bill Press, author and host of The Bill Press Show

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REW remains at the forefront of holding government leaders

accountable for unethical conduct by keeping tabs on members of Congress and other public officials.

ring, revealed in 2007, and filed a bar complaint against the senator with the Louisiana Office of Disciplinary Counsel. The complaint alleges Sen. Vitter violated Louisiana’s rules of professional conduct for lawyers by committing the crime of soliciting for prostitution and requested an investigation into the senator’s misconduct. CREW asked the DOJ to investigate whether Rep. Mike Ross (D-AR) engaged in bribery and honest services fraud by selling his drug store to a pharmacy chain that had an interest in pending legislation for much more than the property’s value. CREW filed a complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics against Rep. Nathan Deal (R-GA) for illegally and unethically using his position to pressure Georgia state government officials to preserve a state program that allows him to collect $150,000 a year for running a car inspection station. state Ethics CREW asked the Office of Special Counsel to investigate whether Chris Christie, then-Republican candidate for Governor of New Jersey, violated the law by both talking with former

White House official Karl Rove about a possible gubernatorial run and attending meetings to plan logistics for the race while still a sitting U.S. Attorney. CREW filed a complaint against South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (R) with the South Carolina Attorney General and the State Ethics Commission, requesting an investigation into whether the governor misused state resources and violated state law by surreptitiously travelling to Argentina to visit a woman with whom he was having an extramarital affair.

Congressional Ethics CREW filed complaints against Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) with the FBI, the Senate ethics committee, and the Federal Election Commission following the revelations that he had an affair with Cynthia Hampton, then his campaign and political action committee treasurer, married to his then-chief of staff, Doug Hampton, and later fired both of them and helped Mr. Hampton start a lobbying practice. Sen. Ensign may have committed a federal crime by conspiring with Mr. Hampton to violate the ban on senators and top-level staff lobbying within one year after leaving the Senate. When Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) called for an investigation into ACORN for allegedly assisting a fake prostitution ring, CREW was reminded the senator has yet to be held accountable for his involvement with a real prostitution

“CREW helps ensure all citizens are free to participate on equal footing in the political process.”
Rev. Lennox yearwood Jr., President, Hip Hop Caucus

By Carrie Dann, Ap ril 24, 2009

Group Says Payday Lenders Spent $2.1 M Lobbying in 2008

Facing a drumbeat of calls for more regulation of short-term consum payday lending indust er loans, the ry has dramatically bol stered its spending on campaign contributions lobbying and since 2004, a new rep ort by Citizens for Respo Ethics in Washington nsibility and found. The watchdog group's analysis of short-term loan companies and ind represent them showe ustry groups that d that they spent more than $2.1 million to lob 2008, up from $730,0 by Congress in 00 in 2005. ter G

ed, watchdog te Tu lls FBI oup said ate allegations wan Press, hdog gr g By Grovup cGill, Associated blic watc nduct to investi Benjamin Spillman, October 7, 20 M sed pu in 09 r co n-ba By Ke shingto t reviews lawye A Washington, W) — A Wa a LEANS state agency th prostitutes. n (CRE D.C., ethics watchdog group turn R Ne ingto ed up the heat on NEW O ouisiana ited Washv., on Tuesne y and said Ensign's o da Sen. John Ensign, L ter solic effor Ethics in comparis phto actio er h able Rasked a Sen. David Vit ns that in 2006 lan ts to cover up an extramarital aff ility and in" in 2007 aft . onsib air ded former Rep. that U.S for Resp of a "serious s n ring. Bob Ney, R-Ohio, were itizens behind bars. In a letter to the int by C n's admission ton prostitutio Federal Bureau of compla g a Investigation, M Responsibility an The bar m the Republic ds of a Washin elanie Sloan of Ci d Ethics in Washin o or tizens for gton detailed law sought to manage arises fr ppeared in rec s she the a then-aide Doug Ha fallout from an affair with then-em thinks Ensign broke as he number mpton. ployee Cindy Ha 5 mpton, wife to

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ach year CREW publishes hard-hitting investigative reports that serve as

Payday Lenders Pay Up In light of new legislative efforts and the growing controversy over the role of payday lenders in Americans’ lives, CREW released a study, Payday Lenders Pay Up, which examines the payday loan industry’s efforts to gain influence on Capitol Hill. The first-of-its-kind study explores how the payday loan industry has stepped up its lobbying and public relations efforts—as well as its campaign contributions to federal candidates—in the face of greater congressional scrutiny of industry practices. CREW found the industry doubled its lobbying expenses from $2 million in the 109th Congress to more than $4 million in the 110th, and doubled campaign contributions over the past three election cycles. By increasing their efforts to influence members of Congress, predictably, payday lenders are joining the ranks of defense contractors and other industries that attempt to skirt congressional oversight by buying influence. you Don’t Know Jack CREW launched You Don’t Know Jack, an interactive graphic illustrating

invaluable resources for journalists, policymakers, and the public.

Most Corrupt CREW released its fifth annual report on the most corrupt members of Congress. CREW’s Most Corrupt Members of Congress provides a detailed analysis of the unethical and sometimes illegal activities of 15 members of Congress who most egregiously betrayed the public’s trust. Of this year’s list of 15, at least 13 are under investigation. Of the 48 legislators CREW has named in the five years since starting the list, 27 are no longer in office. Revolving Door On the eve of the Bush administration’s final cabinet meeting, CREW released Revolving Door, a first-ever comprehensive look into the activities of 24 former members of the Bush cabinet. CREW’s report demonstrates that the revolving door still swings. The report names the companies these former officials joined and the private interests for which they are now advocating. Perhaps more importantly, it also reveals the power these former officials continue to wield within the halls of government.

the intricate web of special interests surrounding Rep. Jack Murtha (D-PA). For many years, Rep. Murtha has been treating taxpayer dollars like his own, doling out funds to donors, friends, and family members who ingratiate themselves and curry his favor. As new information about Rep. Murtha’s suspect activities comes to light, CREW adds to the graphic, creating a comprehensive picture of the lawmaker’s unseemly activities and network of cronies. state Directory CREW has created a nationwide directory of groups in all 50 states and the District of Columbia working to identify, challenge, and deter unethical conduct by local and state government officials. CREW created this directory because local and state officials exposed abusing the public trust are less likely to reach higher office, where they would have greater opportunities to engage in misconduct. This directory represents the launch of what will be an ongoing project to identify and describe state-based and local organizations that share an interest in integrity and accountability.

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“By holding government officials accountable, CREW plays a critical role in the American political process. It is now far more difficult for unscrupulous politicians to act with impunity.”
David brock, founder, Media Matters for America


REW executes a comprehensive communications strategy to maximize media coverage and mobilize public support for reform. Every day, news stories are published across the nation involving

CREW actions, analyses, and research. CREW fields hundreds of calls a year requesting insight on congressional, presidential, and campaign ethics issues from reporters for major news organizations, including the Associated Press, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Rachel Maddow Show, Anderson Cooper 360°, and NBC Nightly News. In 2009, CREW has appeared in almost 700 news stories and made more than 100 appearances on radio and television.

features This year, CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan was featured in several national magazines. She was included in the first ever “O Power List” published in the September issue of Oprah Winfrey’s O Magazine, recognizing 20 remarkable visionaries who are flexing their muscles in business and finance, politics and justice, science and the arts. O Magazine wrote: “CREW-now with a staff of 17-has revealed dirty tricks by lobbyist Jack Abramoff, Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) and many others. Politicos, beware: No matter where you fall on the partisan divide, Sloan is looking over your shoulder.” In April, Rolling Stone named Melanie on its list of “100 People Who Are Changing America.” She also has been named one of Washington, D.C.’s Top Grassroots Lobbyists by The Hill newspaper for three years running.

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REW has successfully tapped into the power of new media to educate and engage a larger audience about ethics issues. By employing a multi-layered online strategy that includes email, social networking sites, and blogs CREW has dramatically increased its online presence. In 2009, CREW launched five new web projects,

created accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, and aggressively engaged with bloggers and online journalists.
TheHill.com, CREW continues to grow its online audience. In addition, CREW has created targeted blog and Facebook ads to drive new traffic to CREW sites. By pro-actively reaching out to bloggers with information, research reports, video and commentary, CREW has increased the number of posts featuring its work on such influential websites such as Daily Kos, Americablog, and Talking Points Memo. A CREW project, governmentdocs.org, was nominated for a 2009 Webby Award, the leading international award honoring excellence on the Internet. CREW has expanded its base of email activists by 20% over the past year, garnered over 3,000 “fans” on Facebook, and more than 900 followers on Twitter.

CREW has used these major online tools to greatly increase the number of page views and unique visitors to its main site citizensforethics.org and its online projects, including mostcorrupt.org, tarptales.org and bermanexposed.org. By targeting new audiences with more frequent email alerts, aggressive social networking outreach, and guest posts on sites including HuffingtonPost.com and

crewsmostcorrupt.org is the companion website to CREW’s annual report on congressional corruption, tracking the unethical and sometimes illegal activities of 15 members of Congress who have egregiously betrayed the public’s trust. bermanexposed.org exposes lobbyist Richard Berman’s activities, his myriad front groups and projects, and his firm’s tactics. For years, Berman has been a front man for business and industry, campaigning against consumer safety and good health policies.

tarptales.org serves as a central repository for the latest news, reports, and congressional hearings related to the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

corporatecrackdown.org/dell targets Dell, Inc. for misleading and deceptive business practices. CREW’s goal is to bring greater public awareness to Dell’s refusal to keep its promise of “Next Day Service” to its customers.

corporatecrackdown.org provides information on the intersection of business and government. The latest news, reports, and blogs on corporate malfeasance are posted on the site to expose companies that use their power and influence to prioritize profit at the expense of Americans’ interests.

governmentdocs.org advances the mission of greater government transparency. The website allows users to search and review the tens of thousands of government documents that CREW and its partners acquire through Freedom of Information Act requests.

you-dont-know-jack is an interactive graphic illustrating the intricate web of special interests surrounding Rep. jack Murtha (D-PA). This site allows visitors to explore the crooked connections between the lawmaker and his cronies.

fixthefec.org provides information about problems with and matters before the troubled Federal Election Commission.




REW frequently works with organizations across the political spectrum to foster

open and accountable government.

Lobbying Restrictions On March 31st, CREW, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and the American League of Lobbyists (ALL) sent a letter to White House Counsel Gregory Craig, urging the administration to rescind a controversial ban on oral communications between registered lobbyists and executive branch officials regarding the expenditure of Recovery Act Funds. CREW argued such a ban would be ineffective because bank officers, corporate directors, and business executives would become defacto lobbyists petitioning for funds, but unlike registered lobbyists, would not have to disclose their contacts with the government. The ban also may have impinged on the First Amendment right to petition the government. CREW worked with the Obama administration to create a stronger regulation and in July 2009, the administration amended the ban. Now, once an application for a competitive loan or grant has been filed, no one— registered lobbyist or not—can lobby the government officials responsible for handing

out the taxpayer funds. At the same time, the White House recognized that banning all lobbyists from talking to any official prevents the government from getting the information necessary to ensure taxpayer funds are well spent. The original rules were based on good intentions, but the revised rules are smart policy. CREW Offers Ethics guidance to Capitol Hill staff CREW held its first ethics training session for congressional staff. Although the congressional ethics committees provide mandatory ethics trainings, these sessions typically serve to help members of Congress work around the rules. In contrast, CREW’s session focused on the unethical activities that land members in the sights of watchdogs and on the front pages of newspapers. Exposing Richard berman CREW spearheaded a consortium of unions and advocacy groups, including the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the AFL-CIO, American Rights

at Work, American Federation of Teachers, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Sierra Club, and the Humane Society to launch BermanExposed.org. The site unmasks Richard Berman, the president of Berman & Company and the executive director of a number of non-profits, such as the Center for Union Facts, the American Beverage Institute, and the Center for Consumer Freedom, as a paid gun-for-hire. Berman’s organizations are funded by corporations and use provocative scare tactics to undermine unions, and public health and consumer safety organizations. Transparency CREW continues to promote and recruit partners in an effort to make GovernmentDocs.org—an online tool to advance the values of open and accountable government—a central repository for government documents. On this site, anyone can browse, search, and contribute information about documents posted to the site. CREW’s partners include the ACLU, Public Citizen, the Project on Government Oversight, the Sunlight Foundation, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

“CREW and the ACLU worked together to persuade the White House to redefine lobbying rules to ensure the administration hears from all voices before making stimulus funding decisions.”
Anthony Romero, Executive Director, American Civil Liberties Union

By Editorial

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Transparency do prefer to work esn’t come easy in Washing to fr into the sunlig om the shadows. But the O n, where deal makers and favor seekers bama adminis ht tration is taki House visitors with the presidential orde ng r to post onlin who come an e the thousand a major step d go each mon s of White th… It took a cour t challenge by a watchdog gr Washington, ou to remind the administratio p, Citizens for Responsibilit of openness. n of Mr. Obam y and Ethics in a’s campaign vows for a ne w era

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summary statement of Activities for the six Months Ended December 31, 2008 REVENUE Total Revenue & support ExPENsEs Education Legal & Research Total Program 472,286 358,825 831,111 General Administrative Development $1,295,374 Total Program



general Administrative Development TOTAL ExPENsEs Change in Net Assets Net Assets, beginning of Period NET AssETs, END Of PERiOD

184,750 87,498 1,103,359 192,015 3,058,391 $3,250,406


The above information should be read in conjunction with CREW’s financial statements for the six months ending December 31, 2008, from which the summarized information is derived.

Ns M E D iA iM P R E s s iO


lates media strategy, CR EW calcu ess of CR EW’s press en CR EW’s o measure the effectiv gle insta nce in which pression refers to a sin im pressions, impressions. A media By counting media im member of the public. a material is viewed by ara nce on television , budget spent per appe lculate the ratio of its CR EW ca n ca September 20 09, Ja nuary 20 09 th rough d online media. From ion cost radio, print, an essions. Each impress 9,8 88 ,359 media impr ated 47 CR EW successfully cre ions. for every 1,0 00 impress 0.5 cents, or 5 dolla rs approximately


By permission of Bruce Beattie and Creators Syndicate, Inc.

PRSRT Standard U.S. Postage Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington 1400 Eye Street NW, Suite 450 Washington, D.C. 20005 202.408.5565 www.citizensforethics.org City, State Permit No. 0000


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