Republicans watched American Bridge with envy. Then they copied it.Reena Flores reports at CBS:
"Republicans had completely dropped the ball on tracking," said Steven Law, president of American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS, two of the best-funded outside groups of the 2012 election. "And we were deeply disappointed with the quality of the opposition research available to us."
Law and Crossroads co-founder Carl Forti persuaded Joe Pounder, the Republican National Committee's lead researcher, and Matt Rhoades, manager of Republican nominee Mitt Romney's campaign, to start America Rising in early 2013. Crossroads was its first client.
Like American Bridge, America Rising is part-super PAC. That entity raised $1.3 million by the end of last year. But the group also is part-corporation, selling its tracking, research and rapid response. Federal Election Commission records reviewed by The Associated Press show candidates and political groups have paid the corporate side more than $3.4 million for its services.
Its clients include the Republican National Committee and the main party committees for the Senate and House of Representatives as well as several state parties.
Both America Rising and American Bridge are expanding. Between the two, they'll employ at least 150 people through Election Day next year.
American Bridge recently spun off a second group, called Correct the Record, to defend Clinton against attacks coming from America Rising and GOP opponents. And America Rising this month brought aboard Spencer Zwick, the financial architect of Romney's campaign, to help raise money.
"I believe a donor gets more bang for their buck in participating with America Rising," Zwick said. The group "has a more direct impact than almost any other organization."
Right-leaning opposition research group America Rising has launched its own photo agency, announcing Thursday that it would begin selling its own original snapshots of candidates from the numerous political events they've attended "at a competitive price."
"Don't want to pay over $1,000 for a shot of Hillary Clinton?," America Rising LLC president Joe Pounder asked in an email unveiling AmericaRisingImages.com. "Building a new website? Putting together a direct mail piece? Need content for your digital campaigns? AmericaRisingImages.com will have the photos you need."
The appeal of these photos, however, is the price point. AmericaRisingImages charges $250 for a blanket commercial license for what appear to be the majority of the photos for Democrats as famous as Hillary Clinton, as well as those less prominent.
America Rising LLC President Joe Pounder told CBS News that "[The] target audience is the public at large and everyone interested in politics from campaigns, to public affairs shops, to news outlets." The site is a boon for that first market - those cash-strapped GOP campaigns - which will be able to use the photos in digital and direct mail for that token cost.