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Friday, August 20, 2010

American Crossroads Independent Expenditures

The Open Secrets blog reports:
In late July, the FEC issued advisory opinions for the conservative Club for Growth and a liberal group called Commonsense Ten, allowing these groups, and others like them, to solicit unlimited amounts of money for use in political independent expenditures.

In the wake of this regulatory shift, American Crossroads filed paperwork last week with the FEC declaring their intention to raise unlimited contributions for political advertisements as an “independent expenditure-only committee.” Until July, American Crossroads reported this information about donations it received, and expenditures it made, only to the IRS.

In the Commonsense Ten advisory opinion, “the FEC clarified that 527 groups like American Crossroads needed to file contribution and expenditure activity with the commission,” Jonathan Collegio, the communications director of American Crossroads told OpenSecrets Blog. “Our filing is complying with that guidance issued by the FEC. “

Collegio added that the entity now registering with the FEC is the same one that had been reporting to the IRS.

American Crossroads is running an ad in Ohio:

Jack Torry writes for the Columbus Dispatch:

It would be difficult to find another commercial that has the appearance of being so carefully tested by polls and focus groups. It hits virtually every important theme - a politician listening to voters, an outsider not part of the Washington establishment, and a candidate talking about jobs.

Yet the commercial, while avoiding any direct attacks on Senate Democratic candidate Lee Fisher, is extremely misleading by omission. A viewer would assume that: Portman has never held political office, does not wear a business suit and tie, and is just some guy who hangs out at barbecues.

Portman, though, spent more than a decade as a Republican congressman from Cincinnati and served for one year each as U.S. trade representative and budget director under Bush. As a member of Congress, he voted for the 1993 North American Free Trade Agreement and permanent normal trade relations with China. He supported the 2001 tax cuts that many economists think were a factor in transforming a $128 billion federal budget surplus in 2001 into a decade of major deficits.

As for the 400,000 jobs lost? Ohio lost 379,900 nonfarm payroll jobs from December 2006 - just before Fisher became lieutenant governor - until June of this year. But the state has been steadily losing jobs since 2000, under both Republican and Democratic governors. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Ohio has had a net loss of 568,300 jobs from January 2000 until June of this year.

Meanwhile, Politico reports that the other side is lagging:
Republicans and their allies have been working for months with single-minded focus on plans to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on ads funded by a combination of existing special interest groups and newly formed political outfits.

But Democratic operatives trying to raise money for expensive ad campaigns report that the wealthy liberals (and, to some extent, labor unions) who wrote huge checks to independent groups for advertising campaigns in the past three election cycles are sitting on their wallets...

The right’s response to the Citizens United decision has been swifter and more cohesive.

A range of business groups upset with Democrats’ health care and finance overhauls, as well as their efforts to pass climate change legislation, have announced ambitious plans to target Democratic lawmakers, led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. It typically supports Republicans, but reportedly to spend as much as $75 million on its election efforts — more than double its previous high — and already has disclosed spending $4.1 million on ads.

New independent groups with strong GOP ties also are pledging huge campaigns, some of which will take advantage of the increased fundraising and spending flexibility accorded by Citizens United.

American Crossroads, a two-pronged outfit linked to top Republican strategists Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie, has raised at least $9.8 million since launching in March and has spent more than $1 million on ads attacking Sens. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) during their reelection campaigns and boosting Ohio GOP Senate candidate Rob Portman.

The extra-party infrastructure being assembled on the right “is very similar to what [the left] did in 2004,” said Erik Smith, a Democratic operative who worked for the Media Fund and America Coming Together, linked 527 groups that raised a combined $139 million from donors such as George Soros to air ads boosting Sen. John Kerry’s unsuccessful Democratic challenge to Bush’s reelection.

The right’s 2010 efforts should be viewed in the context of what most operatives agree is the left’s advantage in grass-roots, get-out-the-vote infrastructure, Smith said. He added that major donors tend to write their checks closer to Election Day but asserted “there are less people on both sides of the aisle who are willing to write huge checks” and questioned some of the projected tallies on the right.