CREW employs the law as a tool to force officials to act ethically and lawfully and to bring unethical conduct to the public’s attention. We use a variety of legal mechanisms to achieve these goals, including lawsuits, ethics complaints, document requests, and requests for investigations.

  • Amicus Briefs

    CREW frequently files “friend of the court” amicus briefs when important legal issues related to ethics and accountability come before courts in cases not directly involving us. Our briefs help inform courts about the broader implications of their decisions.
  • FEC Complaints

    Enforcement of federal campaign finance law is the job of the Federal Election Commission. While the FEC has serious problems, CREW files complaints with the agency that bring campaign finance violations to the public’s attention and force it to conduct an investigation.
  • FOIA Requests

    The Freedom of Information Act – one of the law’s most powerful tools for helping the public understand and monitor the federal government – requires agencies to provide requested documents within 20 days, unless the document or parts of it fall under one of nine limited exemptions. CREW files dozens of FOIA requests every year, requesting documents on a wide variety of issues.
  • House Ethics

    Members of the House of Representatives and their staff must comply with rules regulating potentially unethical activities, including travel, the receipt of gifts, outside employment, campaign activity, the use of official funds, and financial disclosure. CREW files complaints about violations of these rules with the Office of Congressional Ethics, which investigates the allegations and forwards ones that are substantiated to the House Ethics Committee.
  • IRS Complaints

    The tax code increasingly is being abused, especially by political organizations that hide behind tax-exempt status to keep secret the names of their donors and members of Congress who use charities to line their pockets. CREW files complaints with the Internal Revenue Service when we uncover these kinds of tax law violations.
  • Lawsuits

    Litigation sometimes is the only way to force officials and agencies to fulfill their legal duties. CREW’s lawsuits have led to greater transparency and more effective government.
  • Requests for Investigation

    CREW requests investigations of potentially illegal or unethical conduct from a variety of government bodies, including the Department of Justice, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal Trade Commission, Congress, and state ethics commissions.
  • Senate Ethics

    Senators and their staff are regulated by similar rules to those in the House. Complaints about these violations are filed directly with the Senate Ethics Committee.

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