The watchdog group Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington had a helluva year, mostly cleaning up the mess left by the Trump administration.
From their end-of-year email:
We started the year by filing a criminal complaint against then-President Trump for his phone call and other efforts to pressure Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to overturn the results of Georgia’s presidential election. When the Fulton County District Attorney launched an investigation into Trump, she included the charges we laid out in our complaint. That investigation is still ongoing.
After the insurrection, we launched a comprehensive investigation of the January 6 insurrection, including Freedom of Information Act lawsuits against multiple federal agencies. Records obtained by CREW have helped challenge the prevailing narrative of the insurrection and shed light on the days that led up to the attack on the Capitol. Notably, we obtained Park Police audio recordings that revealed that even hours before the Capitol was breached, law enforcement was overwhelmed by protestors, many armed, at the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial.
In April we released a report on the filibuster, outlining why the archaic Senate procedure cannot be justified by history or the national interest and must go in order to save our democracy. The report, an influential op-ed, and additional advocacy work helped change the debate on the filibuster, shifting dynamics that will be crucial to making progress toward sidelining the filibuster and passing key democracy legislation.
This summer, we launched our live tracker of corporate PAC donations to benefit the Sedition Caucus—the 147 members of Congress who voted to reject one or more state’s election results. Corporations have now given more than $16.5 million to help re-elect the Sedition Caucus, as we approach the first anniversary of the insurrection. We’re still tracking these shameful donations—stay tuned for more in the first week of the new year.
By the end of June, Toyota had already given $55,000 to multiple members of the Sedition Caucus—at that point, a particularly egregious amount. On social media and in the press, we mounted an aggressive campaign to get Toyota to back down, with thousands of people joining in calling on Toyota to stop giving to insurrectionists or face a boycott. Within a week, Toyota agreed to stop donating to insurrectionists—and so far, they’ve kept their promise.
This fall, we had a big victory in our case against the US Postal Service, seeking documents about Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s conflicts of interest. When we received the documents, one thing was crystal clear: the USPS mismanaged DeJoy’s conflicts, allowing him to maintain a financial interest in his former employer, XPO Logistics. Then, the USPS tried to cover it up—but our lawsuit helped uncover the real story, and it should help make records like this more accessible in the future.
In November, the Office of Special Counsel released a huge report on numerous violations of the Hatch Act by Trump administration officials in the lead up to the 2020 election. The report outlined 13 officials who violated the Hatch Act, following CREW complaints about nearly all of them. This report, which calls for reforms that CREW has long advocated for, made crystal clear what we already knew: there was nothing less than a systematic co-opting of the powers of the federal government to keep Donald Trump in office.
Just last month, we had a big victory when President Biden announced he was replacing Ron Bloom, the chair of the USPS Board of Governors and a DeJoy ally, following a CREW campaign for Bloom’s removal. When Bloom’s replacement is confirmed, we’ll be redoubling our push for DeJoy to finally be fired.
And just a few weeks ago, the House passed the Protecting Our Democracy Act—a package of bold ethics and democracy reforms that would strengthen oversight, close ethics loopholes, require presidents to release ten years of tax returns, protect watchdogs from political interference, and much more. CREW has advocated for and helped shape many of the reforms in this bill, and we’re thrilled to see it pass the House. In 2022, we’ll be pushing for it to pass the Senate.
CREW is definitely worth following and supporting. Follow them on Twitter.