Pestering Trump, CREW still shows the hand of David Brock

A watchdog group turned by David Brock into an astroturf "watchdog" group has put out a "narrative" blasting President Trump for wearing a "USA" baseball hat at the Houston cleanup effort.  They claim that since the hat was sold during President Trump's presidential campaign and can still be bought on its website, it represents a dreadful conflict of interest.

According to Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit

And then in the story, the "ethics" group – it's lefty mouthpiece CREW of course – admits it's not actually violating any rules, they just don't like it.

Was there ever a more strained narrative from the rabid Brock branch of the far left?  Do they really expect people to buy this and get outraged?

It shows that Brock's still in the smear-and-harass business, but at this point, he's trying to stay relevant.

According to investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson in her new book, The Smear: How Shady Political Operatives and Fake News Control What You See, What You Think and How You Vote, the master smear artist took over what had been the largely non-partisan watchdog group CREW as chairman of its board of directors in 2014 and proceeded to use it for his own leftist partisan purposes.

On page 107, Attkisson writes:

Brock's strategy wasn't limited to starting his own new groups. In 2014 he took over several notable existing groups, some of which had stronger nonpartisan veneers than anything he'd created. That would lend more mainstream credibility to the narratives he pushed.

Such was the case with Brock's ironic conquest of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington in 2014. CREW is a 501(c)(3) founded in 2003 to police the ethics of politicians. CREW had tilted left even before Brock's takeover, but nonetheless it had been regarded by some as an often-fair watchdog of political missteps by both Democrats and Republicans. Its most popular feature was the annual "Most Corrupt Members of Congress" list.

After Brock got involved, Attkisson wrote, CREW became "a new tool of Media Matters and its radical left smears."

Attkisson noted that the funding of the group was opaque, and the group, as of her writing, had failed to file tax returns for 2015 and 2016, which were both years when Brock led the operation.  His compensation was unknown as well, and Attkisson noted that the group was required to disclose it.

Under Brock's tenure, "CREW had been reimagined as another tool to amplify the Media Matters agenda," she wrote.

Attkisson wrote that CREW scrapped its corruption list with Brock himself, stating that his experience showed that Republicans, rather than both parties, are the corrupt ones.  After that, almost all they did was criticize Republicans, saving their strongest for Donald Trump.  At the end of 2016, Brock departed, he said, to pursue more partisan projects, as if the group had not already been corrupted into a partisan organ in his own image.

Maybe that's because he left political allies behind on the board.  We googled a few of the existing board members and found plenty to link some of them to Brock.

A Politico story found on WikiLeaks states that board member Wayne Jordan came on with Brock and was "close" to him.  Jordan's name remains on the CREW masthead.

A 2008 email by David Brock to John Podesta, found on WikiLeaks, shows that Brock forwarded a note from John Luongo about a "media study group" called New Voices, which sounds like a smear operation to intimidate the media into reporting in a leftist manner, over to Podesta.  Obviously, Brock and Luongo are engaged in the same game.  Luongo also remains on the CREW board of directors.

Where their money comes from is unknown, but many of the board members also have links to Soros-linked front groups, such as the Democracy Alliance of big-dollar donors, as does Brock himself.  Craig Kaplan, also on the CREW board, has such connections, as seen in this Politico piece here.

So now the CREW crew is coming out with a smear condemning Trump's USA baseball hat as somehow wicked and corrupt, despite admitting it's not illegal.  It's largely relying on an emotional argument rather than a hard fact, which was what it had been known for pre-Brock.

This is thin gruel.  This sounds like a group struggling to remain relevant.  Blasting Trump for a phony matter like this isn't going to make them relevant.

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