A leader of a left-wing organization formerly led by liberal operative and Hillary Clinton ally David Brock announced on Wednesday night that he has launched an exploratory committee for the U.S. Senate in Minnesota.
Richard Painter, a White House ethics lawyer under George W. Bush who has garnered media attention over the past year for his vocal criticisms of President Donald Trump, said he decided to launch an exploratory committee to see if a "path to victory is possible" for the Senate seat formerly held by Democrat Al Franken.
"If I choose to enter this race, it will be to fix the problem of corruption in our government at the federal level," Painter said at a news conference. Painter called for a "good clean race" with "no PACs, no Super PACs, no dark money and no Russian agents. Just Minnesotans deciding who can best represent them."
Despite his public rejection of dark money, Painter himself is now a leader of an organization approved for funding by the Democracy Alliance, the largest liberal dark money donor network.
Painter, a self-identified Republican, is currently the vice-chair of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), which bills itself as a nonpartisan government watchdog group. Painter was picked to assist in steering the organization in late 2016 as one of the final actions while David Brock, the founder of Media Matters, was serving in his leadership role with the group.
Brock, who initially took over as CREW's chair in August 2014, stepped down from his position in December 2016 because he did not want the organization to appear overly partisan as it began attacking Trump once he entered the White House.
"Due to my stepped up political activities in the American Bridge opposition research super PAC, I decided to step off CREW's board to ensure its public reputation for non-partisanship," Brock said at the time. "I'm very proud of the work CREW has accomplished during my two years on board, and its work is more relevant now than ever."
In the same press release that announced Brock's departure, Painter and Norman Eisen, previously an ethics "czar" for President Barack Obama, were announced as the group's new leaders.
Weeks after Brock left his position with CREW, the liberal operative held a donor retreat at the posh Turnberry Isle Resort located minutes outside of Miami, Fla. in hopes of launching a donor network that would rival that of the Koch brothers. Brock gathered with more than 100 deep-pocketed donors at the resort to discuss his plan of attack to "kick Donald Trump's ass."
The Washington Free Beacon, which had reporters at the resort during the gathering, obtained Brock's private and confidential memo outlining plans to attack Trump using American Bridge, Media Matters, Shareblue, and CREW—despite Brock leaving his leadership position with the organization prior to the gathering.
The CREW portion of the memo spoke of how the organization would operate under Trump.
"CREW will be the leading nonpartisan ethics watchdog group in a period of crisis with a President and administration that present possible conflicts of interest and ethical problems on an unprecedented scale," the memo states.
"CREW will demand ethical conduct from the administration and all parts of government, expose improper influence from powerful interests, and ensure accountability when the administration and others shirk ethical standards, rules and laws."
The memo additionally spoke of using "cutting-edge litigation" and an expanded legal team to file complaints and lawsuits, which the organization has done on numerous occasions.
CREW is also an approved funding group of the Democracy Alliance, a liberal dark-money network in which each member vows to send hundreds of thousands in funding to left-wing organizations. The Free Beacon spotted Brock in attendance at the Democracy Alliance's fall investment conference held last November in Carlsbad, Calif. Media Matters, Brock's group, is also an approved funding organization of the network.
Painter, who regularly attacks Trump on TV, has conducted at least 68 interviews on MSNBC, CNN, and HLN between November 2017 and the beginning of February. In nearly every instance, his position with the liberal CREW was not mentioned in favor of using his title in the Bush administration 11 years ago.
Painter's committee not return request for comment by press time.