The Karl Rove-linked American Crossroads was quickly dubbed the “shadow Republican National Committee” when it was launched earlier this year, and a Center for Responsive Politics analysis of campaign spending shows it seems to be living up to that moniker -- although it might be more accurately been called the “shadow National Republican Senatorial Committee.”
American Crossroads and its sister organization Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies have together spent about $18 million on independent expenditures during the first 21 days of October, most of that on television advertisements and mailings in top-tier U.S. Senate races.
This amount is more than either the NRSC or the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spent on such activities during the same period, the Center’s research shows.
American Crossroads, one of this year's biggest Republican-friendly spenders, has received 42 percent of its money from a dozen supporters of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, the group that accused Sen. Kerry of lying about his war record in 2004 and then largely faded from sight.
The single biggest contributor to American Crossroads, with $7 million, is Bob J. Perry, a Texas home builder who was the top Swift Boat financier. Perry and other Swift Boaters have also given millions to other prominent conservative groups, including the Republican Governors Association, the First Amendment Alliance and the New Prosperity Foundation, records show.
The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees is now the biggest outside spender of the 2010 elections, thanks to an 11th-hour effort to boost Democrats that has vaulted the public-sector union ahead of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the AFL-CIO and a flock of new Republican groups in campaign spending.
The 1.6 million-member AFSCME is spending a total of $87.5 million on the elections after tapping into a $16 million emergency account to help fortify the Democrats' hold on Congress. Last week, AFSCME dug deeper, taking out a $2 million loan to fund its push. The group is spending money on television advertisements, phone calls, campaign mailings and other political efforts, helped by a Supreme Court decision that loosened restrictions on campaign spending.
"We're the big dog," said Larry Scanlon, the head of AFSCME's political operations. "But we don't like to brag."