CRC Advisors


CRC Advisors

Background

CRC Advisors, previously Creative Response Concepts, is a Virginia-based public relations firm, known for working with numerous high-profile right-wing clients, as well as fossil fuel companies such as oil major Chevron.

On a now-deleted website when the company was known as CRC Strategies, it stated in a list of “case studies” that it “developed winning communications, media relations, crisis communications and social media strategies for a leading energy client, the second-largest integrated energy company in the US.”

The firm has also represented political advocacy groups funded by the Koch brothers, including Americans for Prosperity and Americans for Tax Reform, and was employed by the Republican National Committee in the late 1990s to “sell the party's tax-cut message throughout the country.” [1], [2], [3]

According to its website, CRC Strategies specialises in crisis management on behalf of “industry leaders, mid-sized organizations, small businesses and nonprofits,” with the aim of “protecting our clients, their reputations and their assets.” The company claims its “proven methodologies help to energize and mobilize the masses to ensure that your message resonates to those who matter most,” with day-to-day work including: “launching influencer campaigns or advocacy programs, guiding opinions on the Hill, advertising, branding, building websites, research or driving social and digital outcomes.” [4], [5]

CRC was founded in 1989 but came to prominence in 2004 through its work on the “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth” campaign to cast doubt on Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry’s war record. In a 2009 Washington Post interview, the company's senior vice president acknowledged that their clients are “almost always center-right,” with the company described as a conservative “attack dog” by  Estuardo Rodriguez, a Washington publicist who worked with Hispanic organizations supporting Sonia Sotomayor during the time of her nomination as a Supreme Court Justice by President Obama. [6], [1]

Although CRC's website does not list any staff or directors, its president is Greg Mueller, former communications director during “paleoconservative” political commentator Pat Buchanan’s presidential campaign bids in 1992 and 1996. Mueller has repeatedly denied climate science, tweeting approvingly of climate science denier Richard Lindzen: “MIT Climate scientist says claims of warming are “nonsense,” “irrational, “lead us down false path.”” [7], [8] Mueller also has close ties to Leonard Leo, who is a Vice President of the Federalist Society whohas worked with the Kochs to help pack the courts, in addition to launching dark money operations like the BH Fund and BH Group.

CRC's founder and chairman is Leif Noren, former executive director and treasurer of the National Conservative Political Action Committee, a right-wing advocacy group that pioneered the use of “independent expenditure” in the early 1980s as a way of circumventing campaign finance laws, leading to the rise of expensive political “attack ads”. [9], [10]

In September 2017, CRC purchased The Polling Company, a public opinion company founded by former Trump campaign manager and White House Advisor Kellyanne Conway, who has a long history of working with CRC. CRC's president Greg Mueller said in a statement: “The Polling Company is a natural fit for CRC. It is an established brand with a strong reputation among conservatives, Republicans, public policy organizations, corporations and associations.” [3], [1]

Clients

Creative Response Concepts has provided services to numerous controversial clients, including the Discovery Institute, an organisation that seeks to promote creationism and discredit evolutionary biology, as reported in the New York Times. [11]

The company has also worked to promote books by well-known right-wing commentators, such as former Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gringrich; David Limbaugh, brother of conspiracy theorist radio show host Rush Limbaugh; and Matt Drudge, editor of the Drudge Report. [2]

In 2017, CRC worked with the Leo-tied Judicial Crisis Network on judicial nominations issues and “spearheaded a ten-week communications program” for Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch after Gorsuch was nominated by President Trump to succeed Antonin Scalia, according to a Washington Post report and its website. [12]

In September 2018, Politico reported that CRC had worked closely with Ed Whelan, president of the right-wing DC group called the Ethics and Public Policy Center, to “stoke anticipation” ahead of Whelan's attempt to discredit Christine Blasey Ford's sexual assault allegation against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Whelan quickly issued an apology for the unsubstantiated theory and took leave of absence from his post. [13], [14]

The same month, it was revealed CRC had registered as a “foreign agent” in 2005 for its work with Ukrainian politician Viktor Yanukovych, backed by Russian President Vladimir Putin. [15]

In April 2019, Politico revealed that CRC was behind a publicity campaign to have Trump advisor Stephen Moore appointed governor of the Federal Reserve. Founder of the free-market Club for Growth and a long-time climate science denier, Moore has held positions at a number of Koch-funded groups including the Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute and the American Legislative Exchange Council. [16]

Other past CRC clients are listed under “Related Organizations” below.

Stance on Climate Change

July 15, 2013

CRC's president Greg Mueller tweeted: [17]

“A strong majority of earth scientists surveyed said that nature is the reason behind any rise in global warming, not humans…”

Funding

Below is a sample of CRC's known clients, based on information presented under “3rd party contractors” on public 990 tax forms. Note that this is not an exhaustive list, and that only nonprofit organizations are required to reveal public 990 forms, meaning private clients are also excluded.

View the attached spreadsheet for additional information on CRC Public Relations funding by year (.xlsx).

Client  Total Payments
Federalist Society $11,373,503
Judicial Crisis Network $5,155,084
Media Research Center $3,109,554
Judicial Education Project $1,921,500
American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers $722,205
Coalition to Salute America's Heroes $627,508
Wellspring Committee $600,000
Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust $267,443
Acton Institute $131,588
Grand Total $23,908,385

Key People

Via LinkedIn

The following people were listed as employees of CRC Public Relations on LinkedIn (this is a parital listing): 

Actions

June 2020

E&E News reported an email sent out by CRC public relations “accidentally contained the name of a high-profile client”—Chevron Corp. The email sent out a message urging journalists to look at how green groups were “claiming solidarity” with black protesters while “backing policies which would hurt minority communities.” [23]

“Despite this claimed solidarity, environmental organizations, composed of predominantly white members, are backing radical policies like the Green New Deal which would bring particular harm to minority communities,” John Gage of CRC wrote in the email sent to several news outlets including E&E News[23]

The email ended with the line: “If you would rather not receive future communications from Chevron, let us know by clicking here.” [23]

Chevron denied involvement in the campaign and said the inclusion of Chevron amounted to a clerical error. Chevron has been a longtime CRC client.  [23]

The email included quotes from two black conservatives opposing the Green New Deal: Ken Blackwell and Derrick Hollie. Hollie, founder and president of Reaching America, said that CRC had approached him for the campaign. [23]

“They was like, 'Derrick, would you mind being a part of something that we're working on?' I said, 'Absolutely.' And they asked me to put together a quote,” Hollie said in a phone interview with E&E News.

“I didn't know what they were going to do with it,” he added. “I figured they were going to put it in an op-ed or something like that.” [23]

“Radical policies like the green new deal that raise the cost of driving to work and heating our homes would target the African-American community and … would make us even more vulnerable and marginalized than we already are,” Blackwell said in the email sent by CRC. Blackwell is now an adviser to Trump's reelection campaign and a senior fellow at the Family Research Council[23]

April 26, 2019

Politico revealed that CRC was behind a publicity campaign to have Trump advisor Stephen Moore appointed governor of the Federal Reserve. Founder of the free-market Club for Growth and a long-time climate science denier, Moore has held positions at a number of Koch-funded conservative thinktanks including the Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute and the American Legislative Exchange Council. [16]

September 21, 2018

CRC worked closely with Ed Whelan, president of conservative Washington thinktank the Ethics and Public Policy Center, to stir up anticipation ahead of an attempt by Whelan to discredit Christine Blasey Ford's sexual assault allegation against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, Politico reports. Whelan quickly issued an apology for the unsubstantiated theory and took leave of absence from his post. [13], [14]

September 28, 2017

Creative Response Concepts purchased The Polling Company, a public opinion company founded by former Trump campaign manager and White House Advisor Kellyanne Conway, who has a long history of working with CRC. CRC's president Greg Mueller said in a statement: “The Polling Company is a natural fit for CRC. It is an established brand with a strong reputation among conservatives, Republicans, public policy organizations, corporations and associations.” [3], [1]

2017

CRC “spearheaded a ten-week communications program” for Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch after Gorsuch was nominated by Donald Trump to succeed Antonin Scalia, according to a Washington Post report and its website. [12]

Related Organizations

Contact & Address

According to its website: [22]

2850 Eisenhower Avenue
First Floor
Alexandria
Virginia
22314

Social Media

Resources

  1. Jerry Markon. “Conservative PR Firm That Repped Swift Boat Vets Now Helping Fight Sotomayor,” Washington Post, June 11, 2009. Archived August 18, 2018. Archive.fo URLhttp://archive.fo/25e34

  2. Case Studies,” CRC Strategies. Archived June 10, 2019. Archive.fo URLhttp://archive.fo/iqq97

  3. Kevin McCauley. “CRC Buys Kellyanne Conway’s Firm,” O'Dwyer's, September 28, 2017. Archived June 10, 2019. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/6MULL#

  4. Crisis Communications,” CRC Strategies. Archived June 10, 2019. Archive.fo URLhttp://archive.fo/5z0ul

  5. Advocacy,” CRC Strategies. Archived June 10, 2019. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/iPSy0], [“Who we are,” CRC Strategies. Archived June 10, 2019. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/YQ346

  6. Peter Savodnik. “Swift boat group weighs next step,” The Hill, 24, November, 2004. Archived June 10, 2019. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/UEEze

  7. Michael Hobbes. “The Selling Of Judge Brett Kavanaugh,” Huffpost US,  July 21, 2018. Archived June 10, 2019. Archive.fo URLhttp://archive.fo/4MxBO

  8. MIT Climate scientist says claims of warming are “nonsense,” “irrational,”lead us down false path.” http://ow.ly/USK8C  #gop #tcot,” Tweet by November 20, 2015. Archived .png on file at DeSmog.

  9. Kevin Merida. “THE GOP'S TOWN CRIERS,” Washington Post, July 10, 1997. Archived June 10, 2019. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  10. Adam Clymer. “CONSERVATIVE POLITICAL COMMITTEE EVOKES BOTH FEAR AND ADORATION,” New York Times, May 31, 1981. Archived June 10, 2019. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/AMypR

  11. Cornelia Dean, Laurie Goodstein. “Leading Cardinal Redefines Church's View on Evolution,” New York Times, July 9, 2005. Archived June 10, 2019. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/XZ4gn

  12. Robert O'Harrow Jr., Shawn Boburg. “A conservative activist's behind-the-scenes campaign to remake the nation's courts,” Washington Post, May 21, 2019. Archived June 10, 2019. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  13. Eliana Johnson. “PR firm helped Whelan stoke half-baked Kavanaugh alibi,” Politico, September 21, 2018. Archived June 10, 2019. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/P0GDw

  14. Quint Forgey. “Ed Whelan taking 'leave of absence' after posting Kavanaugh theory,” Politico, September 23, 2018. Archived June 10, 2019. Archive.fo URLhttp://archive.fo/nlJYL

  15. Brooke Binkowski. “Was CRC Public Relations Registered as a Foreign Agent?Truth or Fiction, September 26, 2018. Archived June 10, 2019. Archive.fo URLhttp://archive.fo/fKJnp

  16. Zachary Warmbrodt. “Stephen Moore gets PR firm's help to 'manage the media' in bid to join Fed,” Politico, April 26, 2019. Archived June 10, 2019. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/8SXCG

  17. A strong majority of earth scientists surveyed said that nature is the reason behind any rise in global warming, not humans…” Tweet by @gregmcrc, July 15, 2013. Archived .png on file at DeSmog.

  18. Kevin Merida. “THE GOP'S TOWN CRIERS,” Washington Post, July 10, 1997. Archived June 10, 2019. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  19. Justin Elliott. “Notorious PR Firm That Reps Swift Boaters, Creationists, PhRMA Now Helping Fired IG,” Talking Points Memo, November 20, 2009. Archived June 10, 2019. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/8hvtY

  20. Daniel Moattar. “The Dark Money Behind Campus Speech Wars,” The Nation, July 9, 2018. Archived June 10, 2019. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/lYAqC

  21. Kate Sheppard. “Are the Swift Boaters Mounting a Stealth Climate Attack?Mother Jones, January 26, 2010. Archived June 10, 2019. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/2JHS3

  22. Homepage,” CRC Strategies. Archived June 10, 2019. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/RlnCR

  23. Corbin Hiar. “Slip-up reveals Chevron ties to architect of climate attack,” E&E News, June 18, 2020. Archived June 18, 2020. Archive URL: https://archive.vn/C3dMl

Other Resources

  • “Creative Response Concepts,” SourceWatch.