BLOOMBERG POLITICS: The Watchdog Who Came in from the Cold

Career College Central Summary:

  • It looked like a minor announcement, but it was actually news that could change the way that reporters write stories about Washington corruption. This morning, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington founder Melanie Sloan co-founded Triumph, "a new firm specializing in crisis and disruption strategies." Sloan was leaving CREW after 12 years—years in which CREW churned out reports on political bad behavior, which made Sloan a go-to pundit on corruption. 
  • Eliot Spitzer? She called on him to resign as governor of New York. (He did.) Mark Sanford? She called on him to resign as governor South Carolina. (He didn't.) When former Representative Anthony Weiner was embroiled in a sexting scandal, Sloan wondered about the "over-reaction," but the point was that CREW was in the conversation. Sloan's ubiquity as an arbiter of what was right and wrong even extended to Dell's computers, as the company learned when it messed with the wrong customer's next-day fixing policy.
  • If today's news induces deja vu, that's because in 2010, Sloan appeared to be leaving CREW for Lanny Davis's lobbying and communications firm. On the left, that was seen as a natural evolution from Sloan's criticism of proposed rules cracking down on for-profit colleges. In early 2011, Sloan decided to stay with CREW, but she kept on hammering the supporters of for-profit college regulation by begging questions about why their efforts were supported by hedge funders. The education fight was complex, just the sort of thing that could be stymied by confusion and intra-movement infighting—and it worked.
  • Still, CREW and Sloan remained relevant, and their media library is evidence of how often they're cited by reporters trying to unpack a story of everyday corruption. It wasn't until 2014 that conservatives, who had long been rankled by CREW, found a reason to dismiss it. That was when CREW merged with David Brock's network of progressive organizations. In a report for, Jonathan Strong got the gleeful reaction of then-House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa.

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