Photo: Courtesy of Melanie Sloan
In 2003 Melanie Sloan, then 38, left a plum position as assistant U.S. attorney to start running a new government watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). Working alone for the first 18 months, she gathered evidence that then House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) had violated House ethics rules; her efforts helped lead to DeLay's disgraced exit from government in 2006. Since then CREW—now with a staff of 17—has revealed dirty tricks by lobbyist Jack Abramoff, Rep. John Murtha (D-PA), and many others. Politicos, beware: No matter where you fall on the partisan divide, Sloan is looking over your shoulder. We asked her to describe the view .
Mine is a very wearing job—you get rid of bad guys and then more appear. It's never done. But here is what's great: When I pick up the paper and read something terrible, I don't just think, "Wow, that is awful and I hope somebody does something about it." I read it and go, "Wow, what can I do about that today?" Yes, it's hard to fight for what you believe in, but hard is never a reason not to fight. My mom would say I've always had an innate sense of fairness and justice. But I also went to a Quaker high school and took their values of social justice to heart. So even if I alienate all of Washington, I'm not afraid. In fact, when people start attacking me, I'm happy. It means I'm getting to them, and that means I'm doing my job.
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