Alison Fitzgerald and Jonathan D. Salant, BLOOMBERG
June 25, 2011
American Crossroads, a political group that intends to spend millions of dollars on advertisements against President Barack Obama’s re-election, has raised $3.8 million this year, most of it from three long-time Republican donors, new Federal Election Commission reports show.
That amount doesn’t include the donations to American Crossroad’s sister organization, Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies. Crossroads GPS is organized under a different tax code and doesn’t disclose its donors.
The largest donation to the group, $2 million, came from a trust controlled by Jerrold Perenchio, former chairman of New York-based Univision Communications Inc. Robert Rowling, chief executive officer of TRT Holdings Inc., of Irving, Texas, contributed $1 million. Both gave more than $1 million apiece to American Crossroads last year.
Texas home builder Bob Perry, who gave $7 million to the group last year, donated $500,000. Perry was a top donor in 2004 to Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, which questioned Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry’s war record.
The two groups intend to raise at least $120 million for the 2012 election cycle to counter what Crossroads President Steven Law called the “limitless” fundraising powers of President Barack Obama.
Ad Campaign Planned
At a breakfast meeting with reporters, Law said the groups don’t intend to back a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination. Instead, they will run ads critical of Obama during the Republican primary season.
“Our mission is very clear and focused on putting attention on the president’s record,” Law said. “The Obama camp, with its virtually limitless financial resources, will be active prior to the time that a Republican nominee is chosen. One of the roles we can effectively play is to be a factor during that time.”
Republican strategist Karl Rove helped start the Crossroads groups last year after the Supreme Court ruled, in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, that corporations and labor unions can spend unlimited amounts of money advocating the election or defeat of political candidates.
The two groups raised $71 million in 2010 and spent much of the money on ads attacking Democratic candidates for the House and Senate, an effort credited with helping Republicans retake the House and narrow the partisan margin in the Senate.
The Crossroads groups’ goals for 2012 are to unseat Obama and take control of the Senate, said Mike Duncan, the chairman of American Crossroads and former chairman of the Republican National Committee.
American Crossroads is a political group registered with the FEC and must disclose its donors. Crossroads GPS is organized as a non-profit social welfare organization that can keep its donors’ identities secret as long as it spends less than half its budget on politics.
Law said Crossroads GPS has been spending money on ads in 40 congressional districts on such issues as taxes, the deficit and the national debt. That advertising, which isn’t connected to an imminent election, is part of the organization’s social welfare mission, he said.
Crossroads GPS plans a new surge of advertising related to the debt limit, Law said.
“Democrats are going to their left flank on taxes and spending on the debt limit,” Law said. “This is an area where we’ll be weighing in significantly pretty soon.”
Ken Goldstein, president of Kantar Media’s Campaign Media Analysis Group, a private firm that tracks political advertising, said the ads will begin June 27 and a large number will run in Florida.
Although Crossroads’ investment in the 2010 midterms turned out to be a success, financial superiority doesn’t always translate into victory in elections.
American Crossroads spent $690,366 on a May special election in an upstate New York congressional district in an unsuccessful attempt to elect the Republican nominee, Jane Corwin, FEC disclosures show.
A new Democratic-leaning political action committee, House Majority PAC, reported spending $373,568 on the race on behalf of the winner, Kathy Hochul. The group raised $800,000 overall.
Like American Crossroads, House Majority PAC can accept unlimited donations. Its biggest givers through June 13 included the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, a labor union that donated $200,000; Donald Sussman, founder of Greenwich, Connecticut-based Paloma Partners, who contributed $150,000; and George Soros, chairman of New York- based Soros Fund Management LLC, who gave $75,000, FEC reports show.
Hochul won the Republican-leaning district even though they were outspent by both of her opponents. She spent $1.6 million, helped by a $250,000 personal loan. Corwin lent her campaign $2.8 million and spent $3 million, while businessman Jack Davis, the Democrats’ 2004 and 2006 congressional nominee running as the Tea Party candidate, spent $2.5 million, all from his own pocket.
Hochul overcame her opponents’ financial advantage by campaigning against Corwin’s support for a Republican proposal to private Medicare.