In Defying the Odds, we discuss congressional elections as well as the presidential race. Campaign finance is a big part of the story.
One Nation, a conservative 501(c)(4) “dark money” nonprofit masterminded by Karl Rove, raised nearly $17 million last year, according to the most recent IRS tax filings released Friday.
Meanwhile, Crossroads GPS — formerly a dominant group in conservative circles and also run by Rove — raised just $75,000 last year, all but confirming its demise less than a year after the IRS granted it tax-exempt status.
The two dark money groups — along with the conservative American Crossroads and Senate Leadership Fund (SLF) — share the same Washington, D.C. office and employees. Each organization is run by Steven Law, a former chief of staff to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who remains closely aligned with the groups.
Crossroads GPS was once a dominant outside spending group, shelling out $71 million in an attempt to defeat Democrats in 2012. The group was so prolific that its legal battles ultimately spawned new guidance from the FEC earlier this year that now requires all “dark money” groups that spend at least $250 on independent expenditures explicitly advocating for or against a candidate to report every donor who gave at least $200 for “political purposes” in the calendar year.
The nonprofit reported raising more than $16 million in 2016, but its funding appears to have disappeared almost entirely as the focus shifts to One Nation.
The tight-knit super PACs and dark money groups like to shuffle their money around and have remained active in the 2018 election cycle. SLF reported accepting one contribution of $6.8 million from One Nation in September 2018 and two additional $3 million contributions last month.
SLF — which spent nearly $94 million to support Republican Senate candidates, mostly through attack ads — is the second-largest donor to American Crossroads in 2018, giving more than $690,000.