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American Crossroads is a Super PAC that raises funds from donors to advocate for certain candidates of the Republican Party. It has pioneered many of the new methods of fundraising opened up by the Supreme Court's ruling in Citizens United. Its president is Steven J. Law, a former United States Deputy Secretary of Labor for President George W. Bush and the Chairman of the Board of Directors is former Republican National Committee chairman Mike Duncan. Advisers to the group include Senior Advisor and former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove and former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour.
American Crossroads was founded in 2010 by former Republican National Committee chair Ed Gillespie and former White House strategist Karl Rove. Rove's relationship to the group has been described as "informal," and the American Crossroads website makes no mention of his name.
In June 2010, American Crossroads established a spin-off 501(c)(4) group, Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies (Crossroads GPS). In 2012 it founded another Super PAC, Crossroads Generation, aimed at a younger audience.
In the 2012 election campaign, American Crossroads spent about $105 million in independent expenditures, and Crossroads GPS spent $70.8 million. The Center for Responsive Politics found that American Crossroads spent money for or against 20 federal candidates in 14 election contests, with 3 of its preferred candidates winning, while Crossroads GPS spent money for or against 27 federal candidates in 24 elections, with 7 of its preferred candidates winning. When results were counted on 6 November 2012, Karl Rove appeared on Fox News Channel and disputed the network's decision to predict that Barack Obama would defeat Mitt Romney in Ohio and be re-elected in the presidential election. Barack Obama was re-elected and won in Ohio. American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS spent over $100 million to oppose Obama and support Romney.
Rove defended Crossroads' performance in 2012, stating: "We did good things this year. But look, it’s the way of politics that you’re going to have some good years, and you’re going to have some bad years." A Romney campaign manager praised Crossroads and other Super PACs for "leveling the playing field [between Obama and Romney] in key target states". Rove also accused the Obama campaign of "suppressing the vote" by denigrating Mitt Romney’s character, business acumen, experience.” Crossroads' performance in the 2012 elections was criticised by conservative businessman Donald Trump, and The Huffington Post reported dissatisfaction among anonymous donors to Crossroads.
2013 Immigration debate
Crossroads spent $100,000 on print ads promoting immigration reform through the "Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013" (S.744).
- Steven J. Law, President and CEO
- Mike Duncan, Chairman of the Board
- Jo Ann Davidson, Board Member
- Karl Rove Adviser+
- Carl Forti, Political Director
- Billy McBeath, Digital Director
- Chris Pack, Communications Director
- Mark McLaughlin, Research Director
- Bob J. Perry, President of Perry Homes, Houston, Texas ($7 million)
- B. Wayne Hughes, founder of Public Storage Inc ($2.3 million)
- Trevor Rees-Jones, President and CEO of Chief Oil and Gas, ($2 million)
- Robert Rowling, CEO of TRT Holdings, ($1 million)
- Dixie Rice Agricultural Corporation ($1 million)
- Southwest Louisiana Land ($1 million)
- Jerry Perenchio Living Trust ($1 million)
- American Financial Group, ($400,000)
Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies (Crossroads GPS) is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit corporation that works in conjunction with American Crossroads. As a 501(c)(4) nonprofit, Crossroads GPS's primary purpose is the advancement of social welfare including public policy advocacy, although it is permitted to engage in political spending as well. Crossroads GPS is required to report what it spends, but it is not required to publicly disclose donor information.
Debate over political activity by Crossroads GPS
In the 2010 national election cycle, Crossroads GPS spent millions attacking Democratic Senate candidates, and was the top spender in political advertising in Senate races.
In October 2010, Democratic Senator Richard Durbin wrote the IRS asking for it to investigate whether Crossroads GPS had violated its tax status. Republican senators had previously written to the IRS stating that an investigation into the political activities of tax-exempt groups would amount to a politically motivated tactic that would “chill the legitimate exercise of First Amendment rights.”
In September 2012, the Sunlight Foundation said that donor anonymity was critical to the fund-raising strategy of Crossroads GPS. Some critics accused non-disclosing political groups like Crossroads GPS of filing for nonprofit status solely to invoke the right to hide their donors. In November 2012, The Washington Post reported that Crossroads GPS failed to register as a non-profit organization in Virginia. The non-profit watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed an ethics complaint with the Federal Election Commission and a corresponding letter with the FBI, alleging that Crossroads GPS failed to disclose the identities of contributors who donated $6 million specifically earmarked to fund independent expenditures for Josh Mandel's 2012 Ohio Senate race. Crossroads spokesman Jonathan Collegio dismissed the complaint as "frivolous."
Activity after the 2010 elections
Crossroads GPS demonstrated its interest in participating in non-electoral policy advocacy soon after the 2010 elections when it began running radio advertisements related to tax policy, urging Members of Congress to vote against tax increases.
An August, 2012 ProPublica analysis of broadcast television political advertising purchases in the 2012 national election cycle, by category, showed that two tax-exempt, non-profit social welfare groups, Crossroads GPS and Americans for Prosperity, combined, outspent all other categories, including political parties, political action committees, super PACs, unions, and trade associations.
Other associated organizations
American Crossroads shared office space with American Action Network, a group that promotes “center-right policies.”[failed verification] Crossroads Media is a media services company that serves American Crossroads. Crossroads Media is run by Michael Dubke and David Carney, and Dubke also runs the Black Rock Group political consulting firm with Carl Forti, political director of American Crossroads. Dubke and Carney also founded Americans for Job Security, which shares office space with Crossroads Media and at least three other political consulting firms, including the Black Rock Group.
In 2013, Crossroads announced that it was financing a new effort, the Conservative Victory Project, to intervene in the next year’s Republican primaries. Crossroads was not directly involved in the Kentucky 2014 Senate race, but backed Senator Mitch McConnell through a new group called Kentuckians for Strong Leadership. Although the group is legally separate from Crossroads, most of its cash came from Crossroads donors, Mr. Law sits on its board, and the two organizations share a treasurer. Crossroads has lobbied to help set up similar groups in races where its brand may be less appealing to voters or donors.
- Smith, Melissa M.; Powell, Larry (2014-02-27). Dark Money, Super PACs, and the 2012 Election. Lexington Books. p. 89. ISBN 9780739185421.
- Unger, Craig (2012-09-04). Boss Rove: Inside Karl Rove's Secret Kingdom of Power. New York: Simon and Schuster. p. 5. ISBN 9781451694932.
- "Statement of purpose" Archived 2011-03-05 at the Wayback Machine, American Crossroads "About us" webpage. Accessed February 4, 2011.
- Eggen, Dan, and T.W. Farnam, "Pair of conservative groups raised $70 million in midterm campaign", The Washington Post, 2 December 2010.
- "Billionaires give 91 percent of funds for Rove-tied group", Salon, 20 September 2010.
- American Crossroads Backed Almost Entirely by Billionaires, Jesse Zwick, Washington Independent, September 28, 2010
- Center for Responsive Politics (2012). Crossroads' $175 Million Strikeout. Retrieved 12 November 2012.
- Meredith Blake, "Karl Rove melts down after Fox News calls Ohio for Obama", Los Angeles Times, 7 November 2012.
- Karen Tumulty, "Karl Rove and his super PAC vow to press on", The Washington Post, 11 November 2012.
- Rachel Weiner, "Karl Rove: Obama ‘succeeded by suppressing the vote’", The Washington Post, 8 November 2012.
- Donald Trump, Twitter, 7 November 2012, Congrats to @KarlRove on blowing $400 million this cycle. Every race @CrossroadsGPS ran ads in, the Republicans lost. What a waste of money. Retrieved 12 November 2012.
- Jon Ward, "Republican Reckoning Begins After Revealing Defeat", The Huffington Post, 7 November 2012.
- Cameron Joseph, "Crossroads launches $100K push for immigration reform," TheHill.com, June 10, 2013. http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/other-races/304429-crossroads-launches-100k-push-for-immigration-reform
- As of October 2012, Rove and Barbour no longer appear on the "leadership team" page of the American Crossroads' official website.
- "About", American Crossroads webpage. Checked 9/29/15.
- Mayer, Jane, "Attack Dog", The New Yorker, February 13, 2012. Headline refers to Larry McCarthy, who created the influential 1988 Willie Horton ad. Retrieved 2012-02-22.
- American Crossroads, Top 2010 Contributors, Center for Responsive Politics, 24 September 2010
- ‘Shadow RNC’ American Crossroads Raises Millions, Center for Responsive Politics, 20 September 2010,
- "American Crossroads Now Targets House Races", Politico, September 10, 2010.
- Bob Perry Gives $7 Million to American Crossroads, Wall Street Journal, 20 October 2010
- Eggen, Dan, and T.W. Farnam, "Despite tea party energy, outside groups funded by Swift Boaters, other old hands", The Washington Post, 22 October 2010.
- Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies (GPS)
- In Defense of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (Sort of), Mother Jones, Nick Baumann, 11 October 10. Retrieved 12 April 2016.
- "About", Crossroads GPS webpage. Checked 4/3/12.
- Luo, Michael; Strom, Stephanie (September 21, 2010). "Donor Names Remain Secret As Rules Shift". The New York Times. p. A1. Retrieved March 23, 2015.
- "Durbin Urges IRS to Investigate Spending by Crossroads GPS", Senator Richard Durbin press release, Oct 12 2010. Durbin wrote, "I write to urge the Internal Revenue Service to examine the purpose and primary activities of several 501 (c)(4) organizations that appear to be in violation of the law," wrote Durbin. "[Crossroads GPS] has spent nearly $20 million on television advertising specific to Senate campaigns this year. If this political activity is indeed the primary activity of the organization, it raises serious questions about the organization's compliance with the Internal Revenue Code.")
- Lichtblau, Eric, "Republicans See a Political Motive in I.R.S. Audits", The New York Times, October 6, 2010.
- Engler, Alex (September 25, 2012). "Dark Money Organizations Change Strategies to Keep Donors Secret". Sunlight Foundation. Retrieved June 2, 2015.
- McGrath Goodman, Leah (September 30, 2014). "As Dark Money Floods U.S. Elections, Regulators Turn a Blind Eye". Newsweek. Retrieved June 7, 2014.
- McDuffee, Allen (November 15, 2012). "Is Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS legal?". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 24, 2017.
- Israel, Josh (November 14, 2012). "Exclusive: Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS Never Filed Legally Required Registration". ThinkProgress. Retrieved September 24, 2017.
- Farnam, T.W. (November 15, 2012). "Watchdog group files FEC complaint against Crossroads GPS". The Washington Post. Retrieved November 19, 2012.
- See Politico story which details the $400,000 spent to urge Members of Congress to block tax hikes.
- Barker, Kim (August 13, 2012). "Two Dark Money Groups Outspending All Super PACs Combined". ProPublica. Retrieved April 26, 2015.
- "Under Tax-Exempt Cloak, Dollars Flow to Political Causes", NY Times, Sept 23 2010.
- "Upstart Groups Challenge Rove for G.O.P. Cash", NY Times, Dec 23 2013.