Group Involved in Trump 2024 Ballot Challenges Targets Others With Jan. 6 Ties

Trump Attorney Reveals Why Jack Smith Wants Quick Supreme Court Ruling

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‘They want to deprive any popular politicians or citizens out there from participating in the process anymore,’ Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano said.

The progressive, $10 million, nonprofit organization trying to remove former President Donald Trump from primary ballots in multiple states has also been working to remove other politicians from office or from getting on the ballot through its self-described “aggressive legal action.”

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has argued that anyone connected to the events of Jan. 6, 2021, at the U.S. Capitol should not hold office because they allegedly violated Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The amendment states that if someone had previously taken an oath to support the Constitution and then engages in “insurrection or rebellion,” they may not hold civil or military office.

CREW is representing plaintiffs in a legal case calling for President Trump to be removed from ballots in Colorado. CREW board member and former U.S. Rep. Claudine Schneider is a plaintiff in the case.

It also filed amicus briefs in similar cases in Maine, Michigan, and Minnesota, and not only against President Trump. CREW is going after others seeking or currently holding office, bruising their reputation and, in some cases, forcing them into court.

Using the backdrop of Jan. 6, CREW has cast a wide net, reaching into Congress and state and local governments in at least 15 states, calling for the permanent removal of lawmakers and the prevention of certain candidates from ever getting on a ballot again.

For CREW’s argument to prevail, the events of Jan. 6, 2021, must be considered an insurrection or rebellion.

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“Accountability for harms of Jan. 6, must go beyond Trump and extend to everyone who engaged in and incited the insurrection,” CREW’s website reads.

CREW did not respond to requests for comment.

CREW’s Other Targets

Pennsylvania State Sen. Doug Mastriano, a Republican who ran for governor, arranged for several buses to travel to Washington to hear President Trump’s speech Jan. 6, 2021.

CREW published a 26-page report in April 2023, titled, “An Insurrectionist in the Statehouse: The Case for Expelling Doug Mastriano from Office.” For nine months, it did not get much attention, but days before the recent anniversary of Jan. 6, the report was the subject of a press conference hosted by Pennsylvania Democratic state Sen. Art Haywood.

Mr. Haywood announced his intention to lodge an ethics complaint against Mr. Mastriano, based on CREW’s report, and called for an investigation during a press conference in the Pennsylvania Capitol while standing next to CREW Policy Counsel Brie Sparkman.

“If the very fabric of our democracy is to hold, the Constitution must be enforced, and accountability must be pursued against those who engaged in an insurrection against it,” Ms. Sparkman said at the press conference.

Ms. Sparkman called Mr. Mastriano an “election denier” and an ongoing threat to democratic institutions nationwide.

Last month Mr. Haywood asked the Pennsylvania secretary of state to remove President Trump from the primary ballot for the same reason. But Secretary Al Schmidt said he did not have the authority, and that it is a matter for the courts.

Mr. Mastriano called it a public relations stunt. He says he views CREW as an “organization designed to silence the opposition.”

“Since they can’t win at the ballot box, they want to deprive any popular politicians or citizens out there from participating in the process anymore,” Mastriano told The Epoch Times. “I do not need a lecture on the U.S. Constitution. I volunteered to defend it while serving our nation for over 30 years as an officer in the U.S. Army. This stunt will not intimidate or silence me.”

In 2022, CREW called for investigations into disqualification for the following state legislators, who all currently hold office: Republican State Sen. Anthony Kern of Arizona and Republican State Reps. Donnie Loftis of North Carolina, Mike Azinger of West Virginia, Matt Maddock of Michigan, and David Eastman of Arkansas.

It also called for investigations and the disqualification of U.S. Reps. Derrick Van Orden (R-Wisc.) and Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) for their presence at the Capitol on Jan. 6.

CREW litigated for the removal of Couy Griffin, an Otero County, New Mexico, county commissioner, from office due to his participation in the events of Jan. 6, 2021.

“This was the first time since 1869 that a court ordered a public official removed from office under the 14th Amendment, and the first time any court ruled that the events of Jan. 6 were an insurrection,” CREW said on its website about Mr. Griffin’s removal.

Mr. Griffin, founder of Cowboys for Trump, could not be found for comment. He represented himself in court.

“President Trump has the resources and the money, as a billionaire, to fight. What about people like us, who want to be involved in politics, and then receive these unrelenting, well-funded attacks from the left. It’s pretty intimidating,” Mr. Mastriano said. “I believe it’s designed to dissuade people from being involved in politics, and getting involved in their communities, so the left can have a continuation of leading and ruling in different states and across the country.”

In Connecticut, CREW staff pushed legislation banning people connected to Jan. 6 from ever holding office. CREW Press Secretary Jenna Grade testified in March 2023 to state lawmakers that the 14th Amendment section CREW relies on is limited because it only applies to individuals who first swore an oath to the Constitution and then engaged in insurrection. It does not apply to those who engaged in such conduct but did not previously swear an oath.

“Four members of the right-wing militia group the Oath Keepers were found guilty of seditious conspiracy and other charges related to the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol,” Ms. Grade testified. “Most of these individuals are not barred from holding office…The Connecticut legislature has a compelling interest in ensuring that those citizens who tried to overthrow our government are not permitted to now turn around and lead it.”

CREW sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in October 2023 urging it to “ensure that domestic extremists don’t fill its ranks.” CREW cited a 2022 study from the left-leaning nonprofit Project On Government Oversight that says more than 300 members of the Oath Keepers are current or former employees of the DHS.

“Members of an extremist group, whose leadership has been convicted of seditious conspiracy and storming the Capital, have no place in our government, especially the Department of Homeland Security,” CREW said in a statement on its website.

In her Connecticut testimony, Ms. Grade also named Gino DiGiovanni Jr., a former alderman in Derby, Connecticut, as someone to be banned from office. Mr. DiGiovanni lost his bid for mayor there in November. He pleaded guilty Jan. 12 to a misdemeanor trespassing charge in connection to his presence in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021.

CREW helped write similar legislation in 2023 in Virginia and New York: the Restrict Insurrectionists from Office Taking (RIOT) Act. More than 50 people from New York were charged in relation to their conduct on Jan. 6, a CREW memo in support of the legislation said. CREW supports banning them from office.

CREW’s Progressive Make-up

CREW describes itself as nonpartisan, but its progressive political leanings are apparent from the moment its website is opened. Visitors are asked for a donation through ActBlue, a well-known digital fundraising platform serving leftist and Democratic nonprofits and politicians.

The majority of CREW’s funding comes from the Washington-based Bonner Group, Inc., a left-wing fundraising firm that also raises funds for other left-leaning organizations, including Media Matters for America; People for the American Way Foundation; MomsRising Together; American Bridge 21st Century Foundation, a PAC used to attack Republican politicians; The Franklin Education Forum, which trains progressives on political messaging; and the National Vote At Home Institute, which works to register more Democratic voters and aims to increase voters’ access to, use of, and confidence in voting from home with mail-in ballots or drop boxes.

According to CREW’s 2022 tax-exempt nonprofit 990 form, the Bonner Group raised $5.3 million in total on behalf of CREW that year, kept $670,000 in commission, and delivered $4.7 million to CREW. Previous years show Bonner Group is the major funder for CREW, raising $6.1 million in 2021 and $7.5 million in 2020.

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