“Even back in the earliest days, we had to walk that line to raise money because people were partisan and they wanted to give because they liked what you were doing that they agreed with,” Mr. Mayberg said. “But if they gave to you, and they didn’t like what we were doing, we were always dealing with the blowback.”
In an interview, Mr. Bookbinder acknowledged that in recent years his group has “had to back-burner a lot of other investigations into Republicans and Democrats.” He said that is because “there is one locus of real threats to the continuing viability of the democracy. That’s Donald Trump.”
But he said CREW had not been swayed from a commitment to calling out ethics issues on both sides of the aisle. In addition to the complaint against Ms. Psaki, which a federal agency confirmed as a violation of the Hatch Act, CREW criticized the White House’s ethics guardrails governing Hunter Biden’s art sales and called for the resignation of Senator Robert Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey, after he was charged with accepting bribes to help foreign countries.
“We’ve had donors feel like we’re too far to the right, and donors who feel like we are too far to the left,” Mr. Bookbinder said. “We’re not a political organization. We make decisions based on what we think is appropriate based on the facts and the law.”
The polarization is not confined to watchdog groups supported by Democratic donors.
The conservative group Judicial Watch, to which CREW has been compared, rose to prominence by exposing damaging information about the Democratic administrations of Bill Clinton and Mr. Obama, with Hillary Clinton once describing it as part of the “vast right-wing conspiracy.”