SPOTLIGHT: The Top Scandals of 2012
In 2012, the biggest political scandals were the ones most people didn't hear about. While the press devoted much of its attention to relatively trivial matters like the Petraeus affair, the truly outrageous stories flew under the radar.
Our list of the top 12 scandals of the year includes secret email addresses at the Environmental Protection Agency, some of the worst offenders from 2012's Most Corrupt list, and the biggest scandal of all: the attempt by millionaires, corporations, and secretive non-profits to hijack our democracy by suppressing votes and stealing elections.
CREW: Government Must Make Ethics a Priority
The message from voters at the ballot box this past November was clear: ethics matter. Now the question is whether Congress will listen. We joined with a group of partner organizations to call on House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to extend the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) into the 113th Congress, and on President Obama to immediately nominate new commissioners to the inept, dysfunctional Federal Election Commission (FEC).
The results were mixed: Despite some opposition, the House renewed the OCE at the start of the new Congress. Unfortunately, the administration's response to our FEC letter sounded depressingly familiar. Four years later, we're still waiting for the administration to reform Washington's least effective body.
Outside groups spent more than $1 billion trying to influence the 2012 election, with nearly two-thirds of the money flowing through super PACs — groups that can accept unlimited contributions. While a few of the donors to these groups received the lion's share of attention, many big donors went practically unnoticed.
In our Stealth Donors report, we shed some light on a dozen super PAC donors — including supporters of both parties — who gave at least $1 million during this past election cycle.
Ethics Committee Closes Investigation of Rep. Meeks
The House Ethics Committee never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity. Last month, the committee closed its investigation into Rep. Gregory Meeks' (D-NY) failure to disclose a loan in a decision that stretches the limits of Washington cynicism.
For three years, Rep. Meeks failed to disclose or make payments on a $40,000 loan he received from a Queens businessman. The two-time Most Corrupt Member of Congress claimed he "lost" the loan agreement and forgot to disclose it. As Melanie noted in a New York Post op-ed, the only thing more pathetic than this "dog ate my homework" excuse was the House Ethics Committee accepting it.
Selling America Short
Wall Street is masterful at finding new ways to turn a profit, but some financial whiz kids may be improperly influencing the government to do so. Our new report, Selling America Short, investigates how short sellers, hedge funds, and traders have worked to manipulate public policy to maximize their profits.
Our researchers pieced together the evidence using Freedom of Information Act requests, tips from insiders, and conversations with experts. We know there is still more to learn, and we will continue to hold Wall Street accountable.
CREW Fights Back Against Big Pharma's Intimidation Tactics
We filed a motion to quash a subpoena served by pharmaceutical giant Sanofi Pasteur related to a lawsuit against the company alleging anti-competitive practices. CREW has no connection to the lawsuit, but has called for the Federal Trade Commission to commence an investigation of Sanofi and Merck for their vaccine bundling practices.
Sanofi's subpoena lacks merit and is clearly a retaliatory tactic designed to dissuade future whistleblowers from speaking out. We're not intimidated by Sanofi's bullying and are fighting back in court.
PETITION: Airlines Must Stop Separating Children from Parents
This past summer, we called on Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood to halt the practice of airlines seating small children away from their parents — scaring kids and forcing unsuspecting passengers to serve as babysitters. Now a citizen petition is taking up the case. Sign on to tell greedy airlines to stop separating families on flights just so they can make another buck.
Public Service Spotlight Shines on U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley, Tom Harkin, and Tom Udall
With Senate rules reform at the top of Majority Leader Harry Reid's (D-NV) agenda, this month CREW is shining the Public Service Spotlight on three senators who have taken the lead in reforming the filibuster and fighting to make Washington more accountable.
Learn more here about the actions of Senators Merkley, Harkin and Udall, who are working to reform Senate rules and make our government work better.