Two Karl Rove-backed Republican campaign groups raised more than $325 million during the 2012 election cycle, a draft tax return shows, a record haul for an outside political group that for the first time eclipses the fundraising efforts of a national political party.
That total means American Crossroads and its nonprofit sibling, Crossroads GPS, together outraised the Democratic National Committee, which took in $316 million during the 2012 cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan group that tracks campaign spending.
The Democratic Party as a whole was still ahead if you include its congressional campaign committees, and the party also benefits from the backing of organized labor. But the amount raised by the Rove-backed groups underlines a seismic shift in power and resources in American politics as “outside” groups start to rival the spending power of the Republican and Democratic parties during elections.
The trend helps explain the dwindling power of the national political parties on their members — particularly Republicans — who are becoming more willing to buck their national parties as they become less dependent on them for financing. Outside groups now perform many of the same functions that parties have traditionally exercised to support candidates including running ads, sending mailings and coordinating get-out-the-vote efforts, said Viveca Novak, CRP’s editorial director.
“They won’t totally replace [the parties] but they’re becoming 800-pound gorillas,” she said.Open Secrets reports:
Two small trade associations gave big -- relative to their size -- in 2012 to some of the largest dark money groups involved in federal elections, including Crossroads GPS.
The largest of the two new grants, uncovered by the Center for Responsive Politics, came from the Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care, which gave $500,000. Another trade association, the AGC Public Awareness and Advocacy Fund, sent $100,000 to Crossroads last year.
The two grants were a drop in the bucket for Crossroads. The group, co-founded by Republican strategist Karl Rove, raised $180 million last year, according to the Wall Street Journal, which received a draft of the group's Form 990 tax return covering 2012 (the form is due to be filed Friday). Crossroads reported to the Federal Election Commission that it spent nearly $71.2 million in the last election cycle, while its super PAC affiliate, American Crossroads, spent another $104.7 million.
Still, the grants from the trade groups are only the second and third ever documented to Crossroads -- which, like other 501(c)(4) and 501(c)(6) organizations under the tax code, is not required to publicly report its donors. The first was a $4 million grant from the Republican Jewish Coalition in 2010, which CRP first reported on last year.
Crossroads reported raising funds from 291 donors of greater than $5,000, whose names were redacted on its 990. The largest contribution was a whopping $22.5 million. But the gifts from the trade groups show that Crossroads was prospecting widely for funding.