Letter from Executive Director About CREW Holding the Administration Accountable Holding Public Officials Accountable CREW Reports CREW in the News CREW Partnerships CREW Financial Information 1 2 3 5 6 7 8 9

sult, ptation. As a re er, there is tem in ere’s pow e and engage “Wherever th ho cross the lin ys those few w orking there are alwa posed to be w as they are sup is uct even mes in; CREW unethical cond here CREW co ood. That’s w ical activities for the public g targeting uneth og, ly rtunity watchd CREW absolute an equal oppo y. That makes ) political part Edwards (R-OK regardless of ntative Mickey se – Former Repre indispensable.”

L E T T E r f rO m E x E C u T i v E D i r E C TO r



his year, CREW marked its fifth year of targeting corruption in government. From successfully holding former-Majority Leader Tom DeLay accountable for his unethical activities, to exposing the millions of missing White House emails, to representing Valerie Plame Wilson and Ambassador Joseph Wilson in their civil suit against top administration officials, CREW has been on the forefront of promoting ethics and accountability in public life. Since its inception, CREW has released over a dozen reports, including the impactful annual CREW’s Most Corrupt Members of Congress, which has helped to drive out of office members of Congress who prioritized a personal, sometimes illegal agenda over the needs of the American people. Each year, local, state and national media enthusiastically cover this exhaustive investigative report. Of the 51 congressional members who have been listed in CREW’s corruption reports since 2004, 12 are currently under investigation and by the close of the 110th Congress, 20 will no longer hold their seats. In 2008, CREW aggressively tackled some of the toughest, most controversial issues in our nation’s capital: CREW, along with two eminent historians and three organizations of historians and archivists, sued Vice President Cheney to ensure his vice presidential records will be accessible to future generations. CREW persuaded a federal judge to issue a preliminary injunction preventing the vice president from destroying any of his records. The Court also allowed CREW to take the deposition of a member of the vice president’s staff to discover what records are and are not being preserved. Along the same vein, another federal judge refused to dismiss CREW’s case against the Executive Office of the President seeking information about the millions of emails that vanished from White House servers between March 2003 and October 2005. CREW soon will be back in court seeking discovery. CREW has other socially relevant cases pending as well. CREW and VoteVets.org exposed an internal Dept. of Veterans Affairs (VA) e-mail advising VA mental health staff in Texas to consider diagnosing returning veterans with adjustment disorder rather than post traumatic stress disorder as a cost-cutting measure. Since that time, key congressional leaders have called for and held hearings on the subject and CREW filed a lawsuit to uncover how widespread this practice is. In another case, CREW has sued the Department of Homeland Security to discover why the administration is forcing the less affluent to accommodate the administration’s border fence on their land, while bypassing the property of the wealthy and politically connected. CREW also has created and launched innovative new websites such as governmentdocs.org, an online database where a variety of public interest organizations post records they have obtained from the federal government. This site is an ever-growing repository for government documents providing reporters, activists and the merely curious insight into the inner workings of our government. Looking ahead, with the advent of a new administration and a new Congress, CREW remains committed to ensuring that government officials work for the common good rather than on behalf of special interests. Toward that end, we plan to offer training sessions to help officials follow ethics rules. We will continue to work hard to merit your confidence. Thank you for your support.


“The deterioration of every governme nt begins with the decay of the principles on wh ich it was founded.” – C.L. de Montesquieu

Melanie Sloan Executive Director



Who We Are
CREW is the only progressive organization aggressively using the legal system to target unethical government conduct. 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.

Year after year, CREW has successfully accomplished its goal of fighting corruption on behalf of the American people. Since 2003, CREW has: • Filed 67 Freedom of Information requests • Filed 38 lawsuits against the administration • Filed 25 Federal Election Commission complaints • Filed 12 Internal Revenue Commission complaints • Filed 17 Senate Ethics Committee complaints • Sent 20 House Ethics Committee complaints CREW led the way in exposing the unethical and illegal actions of disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff and members of Congress, including former Senators Rick Santorum (R-PA) and Conrad Burns (R-MT), and former Representatives Tom DeLay (R-TX), Randy “Duke” Cunningham (R-CA), Robert Ney (R-OH) and Mark Foley (R-FL). Widespread press coverage of the misconduct revealed by CREW has helped pave the way for ethics reforms and a new generation of leaders.

CREW’s mission is to restore public trust in government by targeting corrupt and unethical government officials who sacrifice the common good to special interests. 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 that educate the public and influence public discourse and policy • Comprehensive communications strategies that maximize media coverage and mobilize public support for reform • Collaboration with organizations across the political spectrum to foster an open and accountable government

“CREW’s tireless effo rts to end the widespread system of infl uence peddling in Washington have he lped to bring corrupt officials and lob byists to justice and focused continuing attention on official and unofficial co rruption in the nation’s capitol.” – Alex Gibney, Oscar-winning documen tary filmmaker

H O L D i N g T H E A D m i N i S T r AT i O N AC C O u N TA b L E


preserving AMericAn history
CREW is fighting the Bush administration’s efforts to hide and destroy records that belong to the American people.

Missing White house e-MAils
Since CREW first learned of the millions of emails mysteriously deleted from White House servers, CREW has worked to ensure that these important historical documents are restored and preserved. To that end, CREW has filed two lawsuits. CREW is suing the White House for failing to preserve and restore the emails and for failing to maintain an effective electronic record keeping system, as the law requires. CREW’s first victory was an injunction requiring the White House to preserve all backup tapes during the pendency of the lawsuit. Then, in November, the court rejected the administration’s efforts to have the case dismissed. CREW will soon be back in court demanding more information from White House officials about what happened to the missing emails. CREW is suing the White House Office of Administration (OA) for the recovery plan it prepared when it discovered millions of emails were missing from White House servers. Once CREW filed its lawsuit, the White House claimed that the OA, which has functioned as an agency since its creation in 1977, is not an agency and therefore, had no obligation to turn over the plan. The district court agreed and CREW appealed to the D.C. Circuit. In the interim, the district court granted CREW’s request that the White House preserve all potentially responsive documents until the appellate court rules.

creW sues vice president cheney
In September 2008, CREW, along with two eminent historians and three organizations of historians and archivists, filed a complaint against Vice President Cheney, the Office of the Vice President, the archivist and the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). CREW’s lawsuit alleges that Vice President Cheney is not preserving his papers as required by the Presidential Records Act (PRA). In an executive order issued in 2001, President Bush declared that the PRA applied only to the “executive records” of the vice president. Since that time, the vice president has claimed he is not part of the executive branch. In addition, the archivist has claimed that the congressional records of a vice president are personal, rather than presidential, records and that he is free to dispose of them at will. As a result of these unlawful policies, without judicial intervention, on January 20, 2009, the vast majority of Vice President Cheney’s records would not be transferred to NARA for eventual release to the public. Instead they would remain under the vice president’s custody and control. A federal court has issued an injunction mandating preservation of all of the vice president’s records pending the lawsuit.


H O L D i N g T H E A D m i N i S T r AT i O N AC C O u N TA b L E

representing Joseph And vAlerie Wilson
CREW serves as counsel to former covert CIA officer Valerie Plame Wilson and her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, in their lawsuit against Vice President Dick Cheney, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Karl Rove, Richard Armitage and other unnamed officials. The suit alleges these officials revealed Valerie Wilson’s classified CIA status to reporters in retaliation against Joe Wilson after he publicly disputed statements President Bush made in his 2003 State of the Union address justifying the war in Iraq. CREW is working with the Wilsons to uncover the truth surrounding the leak, to ensure those officials are held accountable for their unconscionable actions, and to deter future government officials from endangering national security for political purposes. The case was dismissed by the district court and the D.C. Circuit upheld that decision. In early 2009, CREW will ask the Supreme Court to review the matter.

est eful advocate in our qu “CREW has been a forc ble tion officials accounta to hold top administra on, ” – Valerie Plame Wils for abusing their power. Former CIA Officer

H O L D i N g P u b L i C O f f i C i A L S AC C O u N TA b L E


congressionAl ethics coMplAints
Congressional ethics has become an increasingly important issue to American voters and exposing the unethical conduct of members of Congress has been a key focus of CREW’s work. Poll numbers illustrate the impact and effectiveness of CREW’s work. In national exit polls following the 2006 midterm elections, 42% of voters called corruption an extremely important issue in their choices at the polls, ahead of terrorism, the economy and the war in Iraq. This increased attention to ethics is due, in no small measure, to CREW’s efforts to publicize unethical government conduct. CREW has been at the forefront of efforts to hold members of Congress accountable for unethical conduct ever since former Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) was admonished by a unanimous House Ethics Committee following a CREW complaint. • CREW asked the Senate Ethics Committee to investigate whether Senator Norm Coleman (R-MN) violated the Senate gifts rule by failing to pay rent on the basement apartment of a Capitol Hill townhouse owned by Republican operative Jeff Larson. Mr. Larson runs the telemarketing firm FLS Connect, which has been paid over a million dollars by Sen. Coleman’s campaign committee and leadership PAC since 2001. • CREW asked the Senate Ethics Committee to investigate Sen. Christopher “Kit” Bond’s (R-MO) role in removing Todd Graves from his position as U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri. CREW’s complaint was based on a Department of Justice’s Office of Inspector

General report, An Investigation into the Removal of Nine U.S. Attorneys in 2006, which found Sen. Bond’s office inappropriately sought Mr. Graves’s removal. • CREW asked the Senate Ethics Committee to investigate whether Senators Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Kent Conrad (D-ND) violated the Senate gifts rule by accepting mortgages with particularly favorable terms from Countrywide Financial offered only to friends of the chairman of the company. • CREW sent a letter to the House of Ethics Committee asking for an investigation into whether Rep. Tim Mahoney’s (D-FL) affair with a woman he met while running for Congress and later hired on staff violated House rules and campaign finance laws.

FederAl election coMMission coMplAints
CREW filed a number of complaints with the Federal Election Commission against candidates who violated campaign finance laws. Most recently, CREW filed a complaint against Republican vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin and the Republican National Committee for spending $150,000 in campaign funds on new clothes for Governor Palin and her family. CREW filed a complaint against Rep. Vernon Buchanan (R-FL) after employees of some of his car dealerships told CREW that Rep. Buchanan had coerced them into making donations to his congressional campaign for which he repaid them.


C r E W r E P O rT S

reseArch And investigAtions
Since its inception, CREW has published over a dozen hard hitting investigative reports that serve as indispensable resources for journalists and the public. Each year, CREW publishes a much anticipated report listing the most corrupt members of Congress. In September 2008, CREW published the fourth annual edition of CREW’s Most Corrupt Members of Congress, which documents the unethical and illegal activities of 24 members of the 110th Congress. CREW also released two reports, Family Affair – House and the later, Family Affair – Senate, regarding the ways lawmakers use their positions to financially benefit their families. Shortly after CREW published the report on House members, the House passed a bill banning lawmakers from paying their spouses for campaign work. Following the release of the Senate report, a New York Times editorial praised the report and echoed CREW’s call for legislation prohibiting members of Congress from using campaign funds to pay family members.

CREW released Record Chaos: The Deplorable State of Electronic Record Keeping in the Federal Government, concluding that the federal government is severely mismanaging its electronic records. The report was based on the results of Freedom of Information Act requests sent to a number of agencies for their record keeping guidance, follow-up requests that tested agencies’ ability to locate and produce emails, and an on-line survey that, in cooperation with OpenTheGovernment.org, was sent to 400 agency records managers.



MAinstreAM MediA
Articles about CREW’s work regularly appear in newspapers across the country including the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and USA Today, and is reported on by the Associated Press. In addition, CREW has placed op-eds in the Washington Post, Roll Call, the Albuquerque Journal, the San Francisco Chronicle and the Legal Times. CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan frequently appears on network and cable television news shows on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and FOX. Ms. Sloan and CREW Chief Counsel Anne Weismann also appear on National Public Radio and local radio talk shows.

CREW also uses interactive websites to engage and educate the public: www.governmentdocs.org allows the public to easily review government documents obtained by a number of public interest organizations. Traditionally, such documents have been posted to websites as unsearchable PDFs, or simply excerpted online to bolster an organization’s findings. This approach has limited journalists’ and the public’s access to government records. CREW has partnered with the ACLU, Public Citizen, the Project on Government Oversight, the Sunlight Foundation and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, all of which are posting documents to the site, to create a more open and accountable government. www.crewsmostcorrupt.org is the companion website for CREW’s annual report on congressional corruption. www.fixthefec.org provides information about problems with and matters before the Federal Election Commission. www.homelandsecurityforsale.org, is the companion website for CREW’s report on problems facing the Department of Homeland Security.

internet MediA
By effectively harnessing new media to disseminate CREW’s messages and ideas to the American public, CREW is able to raise awareness around critical ethics issues. In order to heighten its online profile, CREW has created a blog, Citizens Blogging for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. CREW also posts blog entries on sites such as The Huffington Post and The Hill.com, and work with the nation’s most influential bloggers and news sites including Daily Kos, Media Matters, Atrios, Talking Points Memo, AmericaBlog and dozens of other leading blogs, with a combined weekly readership of 5 million readers.

ble resource for any “CREW is an indispensa ianna Huffington, political reporter.”– Ar ffington Post Editor-In-Chief, The Hu


C r E W PA rT N E r S H i P S

veterAns’ rights
CREW and VoteVets.org exposed an internal Dept. of Veterans Affairs (VA) e-mail advising VA mental health staff in Texas to consider diagnosing returning veterans with adjustment disorder rather than post traumatic stress disorder as a cost-cutting measure. Since that time, top leaders in the Congress have called for and held hearings on this pressing concern and CREW sued the VA to discover how widespread the practice is.

gAy rights
CREW has exposed the unethical conduct of some of the most stridently anti-gay members of Congress. For example, CREW filed a complaint with the Senate Ethics Committee against Senator David Vitter (R-LA) for soliciting for prostitution, exposing his hypocrisy as a promoter of “family values.” In addition, while the Senate legitimately condemned Senator Larry Craig (R-ID) for his conviction for disorderly conduct for his actions in a Minnesota airport public restroom, CREW quickly focused media attention on the disparity between his treatment and that of Senator Vitter.

civil rights
CREW worked with the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund, the NAACP and other groups to ask Attorney General Michael Mukasey to rescind an opinion by DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel permitting the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights to be stacked with Republicans in violation of the congressional mandate that the commission be bi-partisan. CREW represented Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Jr., president of the Hip Hop Caucus, after he was charged with assaulting a Capitol Police officer and disorderly conduct, stemming from an incident where he was refused entry into a congressional hearing. CREW successfully defended Rev. Yearwood and the charges were dismissed.

environMentAl protection
CREW works closely with environmental groups to expose unethical activities committed by public officials with oversight over environmental and energy issues. For example, after learning that the Bush administration had forced Midwest EPA Regional Administrator Mary Gade to resign, CREW sent a Freedom of Information Act request to the EPA for all documents pertaining to Ms. Gade’s efforts to push Dow Chemical to clean up dioxin its Midland, MI plant had released into Saginaw Bay and Lake Huron. CREW is reviewing EPA documents to prove that Ms. Gade’s termination was directly related to her work against Dow Chemical. CREW has exposed the unethical conduct of members of Congress, such as Rep. Steve Pearce (R-NM), who are ardent foes of the environmental community. Environmental organizations, such as Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund, have been able to use CREW’s work in successful issue advocacy campaigns.

“CREW’s work highlighting corrupt mem bers of Congress has been invaluable in helping Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund create successful advocacy campaigns against ardent congressional foes of the environmental community.”– Rodger Sch lickeisen, CEO Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund

C r E W f i N A N C i A L i N f O r m AT i O N


summary statement of Activities for the year ended June 30, 2008 Revenue Total Revenue and Support Total Program: 80% Expenses Education (Research & Communications) Legal total program Development: 13% General Administrative: 7% Development Total Expenses Change in Net Assets Net Assets, Beginning of Year Net Assets, End of Year 149,829 $2,136,823 898,868 1,954,052 $2,852,920 General Administrative 1,038,395 678,142 1,716,537 270,457 $3,035,691

The above information should be read in conjunction with CREW’s financial statements for the year ending June 30, 2008, from which the summarized information is devised.

To measure the effectiveness of CREW’s press strategy, CREW calculates media impressions. A media impression refers to a single instance in which CREW’s material is viewed by a member of the public. By counting media impressions, CREW can calculate the ratio of its budget spent per appearance on television, radio, print and online media. From May 2008 through October 2008, CREW successfully created 243,902,347 media impressions. Each impression cost approximately 0.5 cents, or 5 dollars for every 1,000 impressions.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington 1400 Eye Street NW, Suite 450 Washington, D.C. 20005 202.408.5565 www.citizensforethics.org

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful