The large checks and demanding style wielded by Democracy Alliance organizers in recent months have caused unease among Washington's community of Democratic-linked organizations. The alliance has required organizations that receive its endorsement to sign agreements shielding the identity of donors. Public interest groups said the alliance represents a large source of undisclosed and unaccountable political influence.
[Judy Wade] declined to discuss the donors or the groups they fund. But, in an interview, she described how the groups were chosen. Alliance officials initially reviewed about 600 liberal and Democratic- leaning organizations. Then, about 40 of those groups were invited to apply for an endorsement -- with a requirement that they submit detailed business plans and internal financial information. Those groups were then screened by a panel of alliance staff members, donors and outside experts, including some with expertise in philanthropy rather than politics. So far, according to people familiar with the alliance, 25 groups have received its blessing.
Likewise, a Democracy Alliance blessing effectively jump-started Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). It bills itself as a nonpartisan watchdog group committed to targeting "government officials who sacrifice the common good to special interests." Alliance officials see CREW as a possible counterweight to conservative-leaning Judicial Watch, which filed numerous lawsuits against [Hillary Rodham Clinton] administration officials in the 1990s. A CREW spokesman declined to comment.
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