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American Crossroads

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American Crossroads is a conservative group created in 2010 by right-wing political operatives and "advised" by Karl Rove and former RNC chairman Ed Gillespie to support Republican candidates. Established as a 527 with a stated intent of raising $50-65 million in the 2010 midterm elections, in June 2010 it established a spin-off 501(c) group, Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies (Crossroads GPS), which can fundraise anonymously. [1] [2] [3] Records show the 527 wing of American Crossroads spent $21.5 million in 2010.[4]

American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS plan on raising $120 million in the 2012 elections, [5] and to disclose less frequently (every quarter rather than every year).[6]

As a 527, American Crossroads can collect unlimited campaign contributions as long as it periodically reports its donors to the IRS. Its spinoff group Crossroads GPS (formed two-and-a-half months after American Crossroads]] is organized as a nonprofit 501(c)4 organization and thus freed from donor disclosure requirements. This is a reversal on the part of American Crossroads leadership, who originally insisted on "full disclosure in politics" and a commitment to “full accountability” and “transparency.”[7]

American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS coordinate closely with other right-wing groups like American Action Network and the Republican Governors Association. Some have called this network the "shadow Republican National Committee."[8]

Thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court's January 2010 Citizens United decision, groups like American Crossroads can legally advocate for or against political candidates without restrictions on the amount of money they can raise from individuals and corporations. And thanks to the Court's 2007 FEC v. Wisconsin Right to Life decision, "independent" groups organized under 501(c) of the tax code (like Crossroads GPS) can run "issue-oriented" political ads without disclosing their donors.[9] Coupling these two decisions together, "shadow Republican groups formed by longtime party officials and party operatives are raising and spending hundreds of millions of dollars in this election. . . most of which is going to come in the form of secret undisclosed contributions," says Fred Wertheimer of Democracy 21, a nonpartisan campaign-finance-reform group.[10]

See also: Crossroads GPS, American Action Network


2010 Midterm Election Spending

American Crossroads aired 17,360 pro-Republican ads in the three-month period between August 1 and October 1 2010, primarily on Senate races.[11] In the final weeks of the election, American Crossroads is part of an alliance of Republican groups planning on spending $50 million on a "House Surge Strategy" to help Republicans in House races. The strategy is carried out in coordination with the American Action Network and the Commission on Hope, Growth and Opportunity; American Crossroads is expected to spend $10 million on the effort.[1]

As of October 2010, American Crossroads has spent money on Senate races in California, Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, Montana, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. They anticipate beginning to influence House races, as well. [12]

American Crossroads has been conspicuously absent in major races in Wisconsin, Washington, and Florida. This is likely due to their coordinated efforts with the American Action Network, another right wing action group with similar purposes, and with whom they share office space (see "Coordination With Other Conservative Groups," below).

According to the Huffington Post, American Crossroads had already raised over $30 million as of April 2010.[2] [13] One of the primary targets was Senate Leader, Harry Reid (D-NV), in an effort to reprise their partisan success in 2004 in targeting Tom Daschle (D-SD), who led Democrats when they controlled the Senate during President George W. Bush's first term as president.

Based on American Crossroads' filings to the Federal Elections Commission, most of its funding was being filtered anonymously through the 501(c)(4) Crossroads GPS. As of September 20, 2010, American Crossroads reports that it had raised a total of $32 million (and was well on the way to meeting its $50 million dollar goal); however, of that amount, only $9.3 million was donated directly to American Crossroads' 527 wing. [14] Based on this report, it is fair to say that Crossroads GPS is not merely a "wing" of American Crossroads; it is American Crossroads.

Coordination with Other Conservative Groups

In a September 2010 article, TIME Magazine reports that American Crossroads rents office space to American Action Network, and that the groups are coordinating with right-wing organizations like the Republican Governors Association.[10] According to TIME:

"[Coordination] can be as simple as picking up the phone and calling a friend. Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, the current chairman of the RGA, is an adviser to the AAN. The RGA, in turn, is on pace to spend even more than American Crossroads this year — at least $65 million and perhaps far more — in an effort that will be coordinated with Law’s group. A key RGA fundraiser is Fred Malek, a top GOP moneyman who is also on the board of the AAN. (Gillespie has joined Malek on at least one fundraising trip to New York for their respective outfits.) To make things really easy, Gillespie, Malek, Barbour, Law, Coleman and several other Republican fundraisers gather regularly to coordinate strategy. The attendees, who first convened at Karl Rove’s home, even have a nickname for themselves: the Weaver Terrace group, named for the Washington street on which Rove lives."[10]

Ties to U.S. Chamber of Commerce

American Crossroads and the Chamber are closely tied, and closely coordinated their efforts in the 2010 midterm elections.

In 2008, Chamber President Tom Donahue told the Los Angeles Times that he wanted to get very involved with elections. 'Alarmed at the increasingly populist tone of the 2008 political campaign, the president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is set to issue a fiery promise to spend millions of dollars to defeat candidates deemed to be anti-business. "We plan to build a grass-roots business organization so strong that when it bites you in the butt, you bleed," chamber President Tom Donohue said.' [15]

According to a report from [ U.S. Chamber Watch] :

"The U.S. Chamber first began to coordinate massive Republican resources when its general counsel, Steven Law, met with Ed Gillespie, Republican political strategist and former Counselor to President George W. Bush. According to the Associated Press, Law met with Gillespie in October of 2009, “calculating how to exploit the voter anger they had seen erupt at Democratic town hall meetings that summer.” [16]
It was at this meeting that they conceived of American Crossroads . . . Law left the U.S. Chamber to serve as the group’s CEO.
Law served as a strong tie between American Crossroads and the U.S. Chamber, and they began to work on policy issues together. In April [2010], the U.S. Chamber’s political director Bill Miller met with Law, top George W. Bush advisor Karl Rove, and other GOP consultants, “to coordinate how to jointly fight Wall Street reform. The very next day, Miller sent out an e-mail directing all Chamber members to fight reform and Rove appeared on Fox News to peddle his theory that the Wall Street reform bill would result in the government snooping into ‘everybody’s checking account.’”[17]

According to Think Progress:

“At every turn, from the operatives running the two organizations to their targeted races to their media firms, American Crossroads and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are bound to one another…the two groups have exhibited uncanny coordination in their election targeting. In a number of Senate races, the Chamber and American :Crossroads coordinated their advertisements – one group put up ads in a race as the other group pulled its own down – in :order to ensure attack ads were always running against the Democratic candidate.” [17]


Rove and Gillespie oversaw the creation of American Crossroads, and are now present as "informal advisors." The group is led by President and CEO Stephen Law, former chief lawyer for the Chamber of Commerce, and former chief of staff to Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell. RNC veteran Mike Duncan serves as the board chairman.[18]


As stated above, the majority of American Crossroads' funding is filtered anonymously through the 501(c)(4) Crossroads GPS. Those funds that have been provided to the 527 wing of American Crossroads have come from a handful of wealthy right-wingers. Four men alone accounted for 54 percent of the group's 2010 receipts. According to the Center for Responsive Politics' Open Secrets website:

B. Wayne Hughes, the chairman of Public Storage, was American Crossroads' first official donor. He gave the group an additional $950,000 in late October 2010 and has contributed a total of $3.5 million. Trevor Rees-Jones, the president and chief executive officer of Dallas-based Chief Oil and Gas, gave American Crossroads $2 million in 2010. Robert Rowling, the chief executive officer of TRT Holdings, gave the group $2.5 million. Notably, his company has also given $2.5 million from its treasury -- including a $1 million infusion of cash in June 2010. And Texas home builder Bob Perry, famous for his financial support of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, which produced ads critical of Democrat John Kerry's Vietnam military service during the 2004 presidential election, also made a series of investments in American Crossroads totaling $7 million between September and December 2010.[19]

The New York Times reports that its September 2010 FEC filings also "included $400,000 from American Financial Group, which was founded by Carl H. Lindner Jr., a major donor to conservative causes. [14]

In its July 2010 IRS reports, the 527 arm disclosed that it received two separate $1 million donations: one from Dixie Rice Agricultural Corp., a firm in which Dallas billionaire Harold Simmons is a major investor, and another from a trust controlled by Jerry Perenchio, a long time donor to conservative groups.[20] According to FactCheck.Org, Simmons was a major donor to two controversial groups: Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, which accused Democrat John Kerry of lying about his record in Vietnam during the 2004 presidential campaign, and American Issues Project, which ran attack ads tying Democrat Barack Obama to former 1960s radical William Ayers during the 2008 campaign.[21] The group’s prior IRS report showed that another company that Simmons owns, Southwest Louisiana Land, gave $1 million.[20]

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  1. 1.0 1.1 Oct 13, 2010House is New Front for GOP Groups, Kenneth Vogel, POLITICO.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Nick Wing,"American Crossroads: New Conservative PAC Seeks To Raise $52 Million For 2010 Elections" Huffington Post (April 5, 2010),
  3. Public Citizen, United-20110113.pdf 12 Months After: The Effects of Citizens United on Elections and the Integrity of the Election Process, (Jan. 2011).
  4. Sunlight Foundation Reporting Group, expenditures/committee/american-crossroads American Crossroads 2010 Election Spending, (last visited March 6, 2011).
  5. Associated Press, [ Money.html?scp=4&sq=wisconsin&st=nyt Rove Groups Plan $120 Million Campaign in 2012] (Mar. 1, 2011)
  6. Dave Levinson, American Crossroads to Disclose Less Frequently, Center for Responsive Politics/Open Secrets (Mar 14 2011).
  7. Kenneth P. Vogel, Secrecy Flip-Flop Fueled Crossroads?, October 25, 2010, POLITICO.
  8. Ben Smith, Shadow RNC seeks $50 million, Politico, April 5, 2010.
  9. Public Citizen report, Fading Disclosure: Increasing Number of Electioneering Groups Keep Donors Identities Secret, September 15, 2010.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Michael Crowley,The New GOP Money Stampede, TIME Magazine,Sept. 16, 2010, accessed September 19, 2010.
  11. Oct 13, 2010, Report: Rove's GOP slush fund aired 17,360 ads in less than three months, Matt Gertz, Media Matters blog.
  12. Kenneth P Vogel, American Crossroads Now Targets House Races, POLITICO, September 20, 2010.
  13. See also, Peter H. Stone, "Bush's Brains, Rove + Gillespie Raise GOP Bucks," American Journal (March 31, 2010).
  14. 14.0 14.1 Michael Luo, New Glimpse of Donors to a Karl Rove Group, New York Times, September 20, 2010.
  15. Tom Hamburger, "Chamber of Commerce vows to punish anti-business candidates", Los Angeles Times, January 8, 2008.
  16. Big money: Outside groups spending for Republicans, Associated Press, October 26, 2010.
  17. 17.0 17.1 Scott Keyes, Kissing Cousins: How The U.S. Chamber Of Commerce And American Crossroads Hook Up To Elect Republicans Think Progress, October 7, 2010.
  18. Joseph Rago, The Republican Answer to George Soros' Money, Washington Post, September 17, 2010.
  19. Michael Beckel, Conservative Juggernaut American Crossroads Finished Election Season With Fund-Raising Flourish, Center for Responsive Politics/Open Secrets (Dec 2, 2010).
  20. 20.0 20.1 Peter H. Stone, [" American Crossroads Spin-off Launches New Ads in Missouri, Nevada], August 20, 2010.
  21. FactCheck.Org, August 9, 2010.
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