The Center for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington
To be blunt, The Center for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington gives ethics a bad name.
The Scoreboard has called attention to the manifest dishonesty of this so-called ethics watchdog group before, noting that then, as now, its published claim that "…. CREW focuses equal attention on misconduct by all, including the right" was belied by its obvious objective, which is to advance the interests of the Democratic Party. If CREW is to believed, having a conservative political philosophy is inherently unethical, because it somehow finds ethical fault with liberal politicians about as often as David Horowitz has them over to his house for dinner. If CREW would just state up front that it is dedicated to exposing ethical misconduct on the Right---easily a full time job---the Scoreboard could pronounce the organization ethical; it wouldn't be pretending to be something it's not. But the Center refuses to be honest about its motives and biases.
Refusing to be honest is something of a disqualification for a group that is supposed to be an advocate for ethics.
CREW gets the David Manning Liar of the Month Award for its hilariously skewed list of "the 20 Most Corrupt Politicians in Washington," the subject of a solemn press release that got most of its publicity from Air America, the We-Hate-Bush-All-The-Time radio network that is giving Al Franken a post-Saturday Night Live career as an amateur talk show host. By just random chance, a full 17 of the 20 most corrupt politicians were Republicans. Clearly, it would have been 20 for 20 but some sharp-eyed CREW staffer who must have thought that would raise the specter of partisanship. So CREW gulped hard and reluctantly included brave choices like Democratic Congressman William Jefferson, he of the freezer stuffed with lobbyist bribe money; Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters, who has blatantly used her position to employ and enrich her family for years and would still will be re-elected by her Watts district with 85% of the vote as long as she avoids joining the Ku Klux Klan; and Democratic Representative Alan Mollohan of West Virginia, whose multiple conflicts of interest are too outrageous for even CREW to ignore. But CREW apparently didn't see any ethical problems with venerable Rep. John Conyers' well documented misuse of publicly paid staff for his personal activities, or Rep. John Moran's acceptance of personal loans and other favors from lobbyists, or Senate minority leader Harry Reid's acceptance of gifts from parties with business before the Senate, or the embarrassingly corrupt Senator Robert Menendez, just to name a few prominent missing names. This is not to say that CREW is wrong about the GOP politicians it targets; it isn't. The Center was wrong to pretend that ideological bias wasn't a key factor in its choices, and foolish to think that anyone other than Michael Moore and Howard Dean would look at its carefully unbalanced list and not know the truth.
One of the main reasons Congress is so corrupt is that its ethics system has become a political tool rather than what it is supposed to be, a mechanism to encourage and enforce ethical conduct. For a group having the gall to call itself "The Center for Responsibility and Ethics" in Washington to similarly treat ethics as if it is just another weapon of partisan warfare is unforgivable. Making fair ethical judgements requires one to resist biases, not indulge them. CREW's "20 Most Corrupt Politicians in Washington" isn't a list designed to inform the public, expose unethical politicians or make a stand for more honest government. It's a campaign hit list, that's all.
CREW lied when it represented the list as the result of "equal attention on misconduct by all," just as it lies by operating under the banner of an organization whose primary interest is ethics. CREW's interest is politics, and as anyone who has been paying attention well knows, that activity has very little to do with ethics at all.