It will come as no surprise to most readers that the two organizations filing “ethics complaints” about Devin Nunes (R-CA) are Soros-funded left-wing groups.
It is also obvious that the purpose of the complaints is not to determine whether Nunes has committed any ethics violations in pursuing the back-door surveillance of Trump by the Obama administration.
There is no case to be made that Nunes committed any ethics violations. The specific allegation is that he improperly disclosed classified information. But he has been very careful in his public disclosures and wording, and he has every reason to assume – as he has said – that he will be fully vindicated.
The actual purpose is to distract the public, and frighten weaker-kneed Republicans with the prospect of “allegations” and “appearances.” Nunes himself won’t weaken, so the tactic is to try to weaken the ground he’s standing on. Make it harder to talk about the actual issue (back-door surveillance of Trump), which will now require fighting past the network of baffles set up with the “ethics complaints.” Make Nunes’s fellow Republicans flee from him. Get Lindsey Graham and John McCain to say in public that there are “questions” about him.
That’s the intent of the “ethics complaints.” (Yes, we’ve reached the point at which we basically have to put almost every topic of a political discussion in scare quotes, because none of it carries its good-faith meaning anymore. I note that this has become a problem for too many initiatives from both sides of the aisle, even if the Democrats still outstrip the Republicans. It’s why the people have gotten so sick of them both.)
Here’s the quick brief on the two groups bringing the “complaints,” according to the Wall Street Journal: Democracy 21, and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).
Democracy 21 was founded by a past president of Common Cause, Fred Wertheimer, and is funded by the usual consortium of left-wing organizations, including George Soros’s Open Society Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, and Pew Charitable Trusts. Most of its prominent personnel worked for Common Cause before moving to Democracy 21.
The group’s focus, since it was founded in 1997, has been almost exclusively on campaign funding and lobbying. So its foray into “ethics complaints” against a member of Congress for something that has nothing to do with campaign funding is a step outside its expertise and implied charter. The most noteworthy previous example was Democracy 21’s enthusiastic grinding against Tom Delay (who was later vindicated on every single charge against him) – but even that example related, in terms of the allegations, to the use of campaign funds. Classified information is not Democracy 21’s bailiwick.
CREW was founded in 2001 and is also funded by the Open Society Institute and the Tides Foundation (another Soros funding arm). Some of its personnel came from Media Matters for America, the extremely partisan (left-wing), Soros-funded “media monitor” founded by David Brock, who in turn is the prominent left-wing activist who supported Hillary Clinton in 2016, and founded Shareblue last year as an umbrella organization for his various left-wing non-profits.
Brock became chairman of CREW’s board in 2014 – something of a no-brainer, perhaps, given that a number of his Media Matters alumni had moved to CREW, and CREW is a vehicle for attacking right-wing politicians. Although CREW was never actually non-partisan – it was founded by two left-wing activists, Norm Eisen and Louis Mayberg – its career as an attack machine against right-wing politicians got a rocket boost when Brock became the chair. Former personnel even complained about that after Brock assumed the chairmanship, and decided to leave CREW because its focus had shifted from watchdogging against government abuses to basically doing opposition research against Republicans.
CREW filed a lawsuit against Donald Trump in January, purportedly over the Constitution’s “emoluments” clause (see Breitbart link above). There is no evidence of Trump officials receiving “emoluments” from foreign governments in exchange for policy favors (the meaning of the Constitution’s prohibition on such emoluments). But CREW filed a nuisance suit anyway.
David Brock, meanwhile, has sought to position himself as a major player in the campaign to – in his words – “kick Trump’s ass.” He sponsored a big-donors’ retreat in January, with the (widely) presumed intention of seizing the initiative in this regard from the Democracy Alliance, the left’s big dark-money sump.
Like Democracy 21, CREW has no expertise in the protection of classified information, and no basis for its evidence-free suggestion that Devin Nunes may have disclosed it improperly.
These wholly partisan organizations are the ones filing the “ethics complaints” against Nunes. The American people are fully justified in seeing through this move: recognizing it as nothing more than a well-worn obfuscation tactic. The purpose is not to uncover wrongdoing; it’s to use the process — which can be drawn out for years at a time — to drain the energy and focus of the target. In this case, the target is Nunes’s investigation of the surveillance done against Trump by the Obama administration.
This time, those who want to get to the truth need to grow a spine, recognize that the “ethics complaint” move should not derail the investigation, and do some stonewalling of their own – against the spurious chaff thrown up to deflect the House Intelligence probe. Soros-backed actors want, as usual, to use pressure from unaccountable, secondary groups to impede the actions of the primary and accountable.
Remember, “ethics watchdogs” are unelected private citizens operating for their own purposes. The Ethics Committee in the House is a contingent and subordinate organization, not something chartered in the Constitution. The House made it and its charter, not the other way around.
Neither entity owns the concepts of either ethics or constitutionalism. Neither should have the power to derail a legitimate, constitutional inquiry undertaken by the House of Representatives.