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Intro: "Republican super PACs and other outside groups shaped by a loose network of prominent conservatives - including Karl Rove, the Koch brothers and Tom Donohue of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce - plan to spend roughly $1 billion on November's elections for the White House and control of Congress."

Former George Bush advisor Karl Rove helped found American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS, which are expected to ante up some $300 million for the November elections. (photo: AP)
Former George Bush advisor Karl Rove helped found American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS, which are expected to ante up some $300 million for the November elections. (photo: AP)

GOP Super PACs Plan $1 Billion Spending Blitz

By Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei, Politico

31 May 12


epublican super PACs and other outside groups shaped by a loose network of prominent conservatives – including Karl Rove, the Koch brothers and Tom Donohue of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce – plan to spend roughly $1 billion on November’s elections for the White House and control of Congress, according to officials familiar with the groups’ internal operations.

That total includes previously undisclosed plans for newly aggressive spending by the Koch brothers, who are steering funding to build sophisticated, county-by-county operations in key states. POLITICO has learned that Koch-related organizations plan to spend about $400 million ahead of the 2012 elections - twice what they had been expected to commit.

Just the spending linked to the Koch network is more than the $370 million that John McCain raised for his entire presidential campaign four years ago. And the $1 billion total surpasses the $750 million that Barack Obama, one of the most prolific fundraisers ever, collected for his 2008 campaign.

(PHOTOS: Republican money men)

Restore Our Future, the super PAC supporting Mitt Romney, proved its potency by spending nearly $50 million in the primaries. Now able to entice big donors with a neck-and-neck general election, the group is likely to meet its new goal of spending $100 million more.

And American Crossroads and the affiliated Crossroads GPS, the groups that Rove and Ed Gillespie helped conceive and raise cash for, are expected to ante up $300 million, giving the two-year-old organization one of the election’s loudest voices.

“The intensity on the right is white-hot,” said Steven Law, president of American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS. “We just can’t leave anything in the locker room. And there is a greater willingness to cooperate and share information among outside groups on the center-right.”

In targeted states, the groups’ activities will include TV, radio and digital advertising; voter-turnout work; mail and phone appeals; and absentee- and early-ballot drives.

The $1 billion in outside money is in addition to the traditional party apparatus – the Romney campaign and the Republican National Committee – which together intend to raise at least $800 million.

The Republican financial plans are unlike anything seen before in American politics. If the GOP groups hit their targets, they likely could outspend their liberal adversaries by at least two-to-one, according to officials involved in the budgeting for outside groups on the right and left.

By contrast, Priorities USA Action, the super PAC supporting President Barack Obama’s reelection, has struggled to raise money, and now hopes to spend about $100 million. Obama’s initial reluctance to embrace such groups constrained fundraising on the Democratic side, which is now trying to make up for lost time.

Labor could add another $200 million to $400 million in Democratic backing.

The consequences of the conservative resurgence in fundraising are profound. If it holds, Romney and his allies will likely outraise and outspend Obama this fall, a once-unthinkable proposition. The surge has increased the urgency of the Democrats’ thus-far futile efforts to blunt the effects of a pair of 2010 federal court rulings – including the Supreme Court’s seminal Citizens United decision – that opened the floodgates for limitless spending, and prompted Obama to flip-flop on his resistance to super PACs on the left.

“We’re not making any attempt to match American Crossroads or any of those groups with television ads,” said Michael Podhorzer, political director for the AFL-CIO. Instead, much of labor’s money will be spent on talking directly with union members and other workers.

“Progressives can’t match all the money going into the system right now because of Citizens United, so we have to have a program that empowers the worker movement,” Podhorzer said.

Much of the public focus has been on how these outside groups will tilt the balance of power in fundraising at the presidential level. But POLITICO has learned that Republicans involved with the groups see the combined efforts playing out just as aggressively at the congressional level, in below-the-radar efforts designed to damage Democratic candidates for the House and Senate.

The officials said that if Romney looks weak in the final stretch, the vast majority of the money could be aimed at winning back the Senate. Republicans need four seats to do that, if Obama is re-elected.

Republicans have taken one big lesson away from campaigns conducted to date in 2011 and 2012: outside money can be the difference-maker in elections.

It was outside money from casino magnate Sheldon Adelson that single-handedly kept Newt Gingrich afloat against Romney. A super PAC spending surge fueled by Wyoming mutual fund guru Foster Friess was credited with powering Rick Santorum to an upset win in the Iowa caucuses. And outside money has helped lift tea party challengers past incumbents like Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) in this year’s primaries.

Restore Our Future, the pro-Romney super PAC, spent twice as much on the air as the campaign did in the thick of the primaries: Through March, the campaign had put $16.7 million into TV, while ROF shelled out $33.2 million.

In Florida, the super PAC outspent the campaign, $8.8 million to $6.7 million. (The campaign can get more spots per dollar because of more favorable rates.) In Michigan, it was $2.3 million to $1.5 million. In Ohio, ROF outspent the campaign, $2.3 million to $1.5 million.

Now Republicans are applying this approach - on steroids - to the remainder of the campaign:

-Groups affiliated with Charles and David Koch, the billionaire industrialists who are among the biggest behind-the-scenes players in Republican politics, will spend the most of any outside outfit on either side: roughly $395 million for issue and political advocacy by groups they support – twice the amount they previously had been expected to commit.

“People are energized because the future of our country and economy is at stake,” said an ally familiar with the Koch effort.

The flagship group in the Koch network is Americans for Prosperity, which gets about half its funds from other donors.

- American Crossroads and Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies (GPS) plan to do about two-thirds of their spending on advocacy related to the presidential race, and the rest relating to House and Senate races. Crossroads (a super PAC) was founded in April 2010, Crossroads GPS (a 501(c)4 non-profit group) started the next month.

-The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has a goal of $100 million, according to outsiders familiar with the plans. All of that will be focused on congressional races, with the House as the top priority – what organizers call “the first insurance policy” if Obama were to get reelected.

But the Chamber’s message, which includes attacks on Obama’s health-care plan, can be expected to help Romney in several states with competitive Senate races that are also presidential battlegrounds – Florida, Ohio, Virginia, New Mexico, Nevada and Wisconsin.

-The YG Action Fund, the super PAC started by aides of the two self-styled “Young Guns” – House Republican Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and House Republican Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) - has a goal of raising about $30 million, including the YG Network.

-American Action Network, chaired by former senator Norm Coleman, raised about $30 million in the 2010 election cycle and is likely to try to at least match that amount in 2012, with most of that going toward congressional races.

-The Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC supported by Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and other House GOP leaders, has reported raising $5 million so far.

-The pro-Romney super PAC, Restore Our Future, is likely to raise $50 million to $100 million for the general election. “They saw that the spending worked before, and with the race this competitive, it will be even easier for them to raise money now,” said a source close to the group.

Charlie Spies, co-founder and counsel of Restore Our Future, said: “While there are multiple other groups doing important work to assist Republicans up and down the ticket, ROF is the only group dedicated solely to electing Mitt Romney, and targeting every dollar that we raise towards supporting him. ROF will spend our resources fighting back against the Obama team’s distortions and smears.”

-FreedomWorks, the Dick Armey-led tea party outfit that has backed challengers in GOP congressional primaries, is expected to spend $30 million or more on issue advocacy, campaign ads and organizing - between its super PAC and 501(c)4.

-The Republican Jewish Coalition, a 501(c)4 group that works closely with the Crossroads outfits and the American Action Network, plans to spend more than $6 million on “the largest, most expensive, most sophisticated outreach effort ever undertaken in the Jewish community,” according to a source familiar with its plans.

-Club for Growth plans spending in congressional races but does not reveal totals.

It’s important to step back for a moment to understand the currents racing through the money chase right now. Republicans, back in the era of soft money, dominated fundraising, thanks in large part to big business donors. But when soft money was outlawed in 2002, a lot of business donors got uneasy about feeding their money through outside groups. Many sat out. At the same time, liberals got into the business of using tax-exempt and other groups to build their own web of think tanks, media monitors, vote-trackers and advocacy groups to influence politics. Rich liberals such as George Soros and union leaders funded much of it.

By the time 2008 rolled around, Obama and the Democrats were rolling over Republicans in the race for campaign cash raised in limited chunks, and Obama largely discouraged big-money outside efforts. Things have changed rapidly – and, in some respects, radically - since then.

First, Citizens United made it easy and less risky for rich donors to get back in the game. Second, a subsequent lower court case paved the way for the creation of super PACs, giving mega-donors arguably the most effective vehicle for funding ads in the modern campaign finance era. Third and perhaps most important, Obama scared many free-market millionaires into action with what they perceive as his outright hostility to capitalism.

Kenneth P. Vogel contributed. your social media marketing partner


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+17 # Barbara K 2012-05-31 09:10
Let them waste their money. We, Democrats, are smart enough to ignore the hate and lies and garbage they spew, all for the King of the Liars Club to try to take control of us. We know that he would be nothing but a mouthpiece for the millionaires he represents. I can use my mute button and don't even have to watch their trashy ads.
+7 # pernsey 2012-05-31 13:02
Im with you on this Barbara, let them spend a billion only to be destroyed at the polls!
+7 # John Locke 2012-05-31 14:06
I would rather see them spend the money to feed the people in America that are out of money and have no job or unemployment insurance payments left because Congress shut it down! That kind of money for an election is as stupid as is the election itself. its not like we have a real difference of parties, they are both controlled by the same element!
+14 # Abigail 2012-05-31 09:46
We need to eliminate the major need for money-buying TV time. TV channels should be required to GIVE and equal amount of time to all candidates for national office, and if any candidate BUYS more time, then the selling TV channel must be required to GIVE and EQUAL amount of time to all the other candidates for that office. The TV frequencies are owned by US, the PEOPLE, and are LICENSED to the TV owners by the FCC. One of the conditions of the license is PUBLIC SERVICE. If saving our democracy isn't public service, then what is?
+15 # mari 2012-05-31 09:59
Citizens United come one, come all doesn't matter who you are you got the bucks, jump right in with your Pac, foreigners welcome, no names please. Welcome to the United States of Corporations. This Election is a tremendous test for the citizens of this country.
Great article...
+15 # MidwestTom 2012-05-31 10:50
According to the WSJ last week, Obama, by not having a primary fight has been able to save a bunch of money and now has about twice as much available to spend as Romney. They projected that each candidate will spend over $1.0 billion, and Obama has over $650 million OH, while Romney has only $320 million. What a giant waste of money. We should outlaw all political advertising and televise on all channels a series of debates.
+10 # Tom Camfield 2012-05-31 12:22
Thank you, John Roberts, Clarence Thomas and wife . . . and other Supreme Court sleazeballs.
+8 # seniorcitizen 2012-05-31 12:59
Midwesttom has the right idea. A series of debates is the best way to get to hear from the mouths of each candidate what they stand for and against. The lies that are being spread in ads can be addressed and answered. Citizens United is a travesty that should be repealed. The Supreme Court is wrong again. What were they thinking? Money from other countries, such as China, who certainly are not"citizens",a re part of multi-national corporations who are funding ads and influencing elections.We don't even know where this money is coming from.They can buy an election with enough propoganda to be believed if it is heard often enough.
+4 # Underledge 2012-05-31 13:21
Let the Games begin! We Americans simply love carnival and circus. Who says the Roman Empire no longer exists?
-16 # jimattrell 2012-05-31 13:23
Thank goodness. For awhile there I feared all the Big Corporation cash was going to Obama. Now Americans can have hope for change that we really need including real leadership in the White House.
+3 # Feral Dogz 2012-05-31 13:25
"Obama scared many free-market millionaires into action with what they perceive as his outright hostility to capitalism."


Free market millionaires scared themselves with their own BS. For all intents and purposes, Obama has acted as a moderate republican. The right wing is so twisted, they don't know when they've got it good.
+8 # Old Man 2012-05-31 13:35
This is the republican-tea parties way of stimulating the economy.
If we allow this to continue after the President is re-elected, then this country is really,really broken.
How did we let this happen? The "Greed" of it all makes me sick.
Obama 2012.
+11 # MindDoc 2012-05-31 13:42
Well, we know an equal amount of cash will be tossed at any effort to simply have the ultra-wealthy contribute a few crumbs (at worst) or a fair share (at best) through a fair tax system.

With a billion here, a few million here, why not just donate all the money about to spent on mud-slinging, propaganda, and disenfranchisin g voters, and simply give it to the US treasury, for debt reduction or an equal tax rebate across the board (for all but billionaires)? Still better, make our "corporate people" match the pledges for political hackery, and the taxes paid by flesh & blood people, and we'd really see a just, and wealthy country return to the way it was conceived - "liberty and justice for all".
Beginning with "We the People", not the robber-barons in waiting.
+8 # Kayjay 2012-05-31 15:16
Back in the early 20th century, the New York Times was dubbed the "gray lady," referring to its lack of splashy fotos and blocks of dense copy. The Wall Street Journal was very gray as well, with its copy and wood block graphics. Those were the old days when most people had the time to digest this copy and our democracy thrived when people read between the lines. Fast forward nearly a hundred years and our lifestyle has quickened and democracy has simplified and morphed into inane one-line messages and who's willing to raise the cash to buy political office. It all makes me wonder when people will finally say enough.....and reinstall a working government that "promotes the general welfare," of all Americans.
+5 # bluepilgrim 2012-05-31 20:06
s much as I condemn Obama and the Democrats, not to excuse them but it is important to keep in mind how awful the Republicans are --

(And this from Washing Post, even!).

Link from

GOP’s Strategy of Deception
May 31, 2012
Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein, two veteran centrists who disdain partisan labels, finally said what nearly everyone knows to be true. In April, they penned a Washington Post article entitled, “Let’s just say it, the Republicans are the problem.” Yet, the GOP “problem” goes even deeper, says Beverly Bandler.

By Beverly Bandler

The Republican Party has a free-floating relationship with truth. The party distorts, insinuates, misleads, and blatantly lies.
The GOP has deliberately exploited myths, misled or lied about:

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