WASHINGTON (AP) – A deep-pocketed alliance with ties to top Republicans Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie is pumping more than $4 million into key Senate races in a single week of advertising, a crucial infusion to counter a surge in Democratic Party spending as Election Day draws near.
The new wave of ads by Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies and its affiliate, American Crossroads, comes during the final, most intense weeks of the congressional campaign. The money, together with that of other groups aligned with the GOP, represents a new beachhead in this year’s less regulated world of money and politics.
For the two Crossroads groups, the new spending means they have poured nearly $14 million into fiercely competitive Senate races in eight states – Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Colorado and Washington – since August.
Overall spending this year in House and Senate races by candidates, outside groups and the political parties had reached $220 million as of mid-September, according to a Wesleyan University analysis of ad data from Kantar Media/CMAG. Most was by candidates, but nearly one-fifth came from interest groups, a vast majority favoring Republicans.
Crossroads’ efforts are among the most prominent examples in the increased political activity by tax-exempt nonprofit groups, illustrating new terrain in campaign finance. A landmark Supreme Court case, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, opened the way early this year for corporations and unions to spend money in elections. New FEC guidelines and lower court rulings have also contributed to a more freewheeling environment.
As a result, the Internal Revenue Service has come under increasing pressure from Democrats to act against conservative or GOP-allied groups, placing the tax agency in an awkward position of being dragged into a political fight that it can’t possibly address until well after the Nov. 2 elections are over.