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Divided We Stand

Divided We Stand
New book about the 2020 election.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

RNC Woes and Work-Arounds

The Washington Post reports:
The Republican National Committee filed amended financial reports Tuesday showing about $3 million in debt for April and May that was previously unreported.

RNC Treasurer Randy Pullen said in a memo to the party's budget committee that he had discovered unpaid bills for telemarketing, legal consulting and other services. Pullen accused RNC Chairman Michael S. Steele's chief of staff of hiding invoices and telling staff members to withhold information from Pullen.

Former Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman avoided questions about his interest in leading the RNC in an interview Friday but pointedly noted the party's woes under Chairman Michael Steele.

"The reality is that there have been concerns about the RNC, that's a reality," Coleman told CNN's Wolf Blitzer. "Fundraising hasn't been what a lot of folks would like, et cetera."

Coleman heads a third-party conservative group called the American Action Network, which has helped fill the fundraising void left by the national party's cash shortage.

But, as POLITICO reported Thursday, he has also begun talking to high-level Republicans about a bid to become RNC Chairman when Steele's term is up in January

Ben reported recently that Republican Governors Association chairman Haley Barbour took a swipe at embattled RNC chairman Michael Steele in a closed-door reception, saying he had to raise his own budget by $10 million because the spending/raising woes at his counterpart.

Now, it turns out the RGA is taking it a step further - setting up so-called "victory fund" operations, long the province of the RNC, in various states around the country, according to sources who attended the group's recent conference in Aspen.

Nick Ayers, the executive director of the RGA - which raised an astonishing $19 million in the last quarter - told a meeting of donors about the move, which started well before this week's latest round of stories about fundraising and spending woes at the RNC.

American Crossroads is another work-around, as Samantha King writes at The Washington Examiner:
Steele’s actions have also left a widening gap for the conservative elite to blast through his defenses and take RNC’s donor base. Rove set up American Crossroads among major Republican players to change the direction of GOP and offer an alternative outlet to the corrupt working of the RNC

And despite the group's description of itself as "grassroots," Salon's review of its IRS filings show that four billionaires have contributed 97 percent of the $4.7 million it has raised to date. There are no limits on how much corporations, unions, and individuals can donate to 527 groups. Here's a guide to American Crossroads' four donors:

  • Trevor Rees-Jones, president of Dallas-based Chief Oil and Gas, gave a $1 million donation to American Crossroads just as the group was starting in April. That's small money for Rees-Jones, who, Forbes estimated in 2009, amassed a $1.5 billion fortune investing in gas prospects around America. He has also been a big donor to John McCain and the Texas Republican Party, Politico reported.
  • Bradley Wayne Hughes, chairman of Public Storage Inc, is American Crossroads' biggest donor, contributing $1.55 million to date. Hughes founded Public Storage in 1972 and the company has grown into a self-storage behemouth with over 2,000 locations. Worth $3.9 billion, he lives in Lexington, KY, where he actively raises thoroughbred horses at Spendthrift Farm. (Hughes' son, B. Wayne Hughes Jr., is on the board of former Senator Norm Coleman's new conservative group, the American Action Network.)
  • A company called Southwest Louisiana Land LLC donated $1 million to American Crossroads in June. It turns out Southwest, which doesn't have much of a public footprint, is owned by Dallas billionaire investor Harold Simmons -- no stranger to conservative causes. Since the 1980s, he has ponied up for everthing from Oliver North's defense fund, to Newt Gingrich's PAC, to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth in 2004, to the American Issues Project, a group that ran ads attempting to tie Obama to Bill Ayers in 2008 (Simmons was the sole funder of the Ayers effort, giving nearly $3 million.) Simmons is worth $4.5 billion.
  • TRT Holdings, owned by Dallas' Robert Rowling, gave American Crossroads $1 million. Rowling, whose firm owns Omni Hotels and Gold's Gym, got started at his father's successful company, Tana Oil & Gas. He's now worth $4.4 billion. In 2004 Rowling gave $1 million to Progress for America, an outside group backing President Bush's reelection.