Federal Politics

Published — November 17, 2015 Updated — Today at 2:05 pm EST

New tax documents show Crossroads GPS poured millions into 2014 Senate race

Group supplied nearly all funds to North Carolina ‘dark money’ group

Introduction

Crossroads GPS, one of the nation’s largest politically active “dark money” nonprofits, quietly supplied millions of dollars in 2014 to other politically active nonprofit groups seeking to influence the midterm elections, according to new tax filings reviewed by the Center for Public Integrity.

One group received nearly all its money from Crossroads GPS: Carolina Rising, a North Carolina-based group that sprang up and spent almost all its money running thousands of TV ads that boosted now-U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis in what was one of the nation’s most hotly contested Senate races.

Crossroads GPS reported giving Carolina Rising $4.82 million, or roughly 99 percent of its revenue. The group appears to have received only one other contribution, for $60,000, according to a tax filing posted by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a watchdog group that last month filed a complaint against Carolina Rising with the Internal Revenue Service.

Crossroads GPS and Carolina Rising are both “social welfare” nonprofits organized under section 501(c)(4) of the U.S. tax code. Such nonprofits have assumed new, high-profile roles in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. FEC decision in 2010.

Their nonprofit status means they aren’t required to reveal their donors, making the source of the money behind the Carolina Rising ads — filtered through two different layers of anonymity — nearly impossible to penetrate.

Crossroads GPS — together with a related super political action committee, American Crossroads, that does reveal its donors — spent nearly $49 million directly on the 2014 elections, all supporting Republican candidates, according to campaign finance data tracked by the Center for Responsive Politics.

The two groups were co-founded by Karl Rove, a political strategist and former advisor to then-President George W. Bush.

Targeting the Senate

But the new tax filing shows Crossroads GPS also gave millions in additional money to other groups that were active in the crucial 2014 elections, when the parties battled fiercely over control of the U.S. Senate.

Republicans won, and the new documents prove Crossroads’ influence was far larger than the public knew.

Crossroads GPS gave $5.25 million to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the behemoth business lobby that spent $35.5 million on the midterm elections, almost all of which supported Republican candidates. Chamber-backed candidates won big.

Scott Reed, the Chamber’s senior political strategist, was not immediately available to comment on the Chamber’s relationship with Crossroads GPS. A spokeswoman for the Chamber declined to comment.

Crossroads GPS gave $2 million to the American Future Fund, an Iowa-based group that spent about $3 million during the 2014 elections on House and Senate races, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

The Kentucky Opportunity Coalition, another “social welfare” nonprofit on the Crossroads GPS grantee list, boosted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., during his hotly contested re-election bid last year.

Ahead of that election, the Kentucky Opportunity Coalition spent more than $14 million on advertising — and accounted for about one of every seven TV ads in the contest. Most of the group’s ads praised McConnell and his support for Kentucky’s coal industry, or criticized McConnell’s Democratic opponent, Alison Lundergan Grimes, who ultimately lost the race.

The Kentucky Opportunity Coalition received $390,000 from Crossroads GPS.

Reached by the Center for Public Integrity, Scott Jennings, a spokesman for the Kentucky Opportunity Coalition, declined to comment.

Not so ‘diverse’

The fact that Carolina Rising received nearly all of its money from Crossroads directly contradicts what Dallas Woodhouse, now the head of the state Republican Party, told the Center for Public Integrity in a November 2014 interview.

In November, Woodhouse said Carolina Rising was funded by multiple donors, and the organization had “a large, diverse donor body.”

He did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment on the Crossroads GPS grant, or questions from the Center for Public Integrity regarding the apparent contradiction with his earlier comments.

He has said Carolina Rising spent roughly $4.7 million on the Tillis ads, or roughly all its money. In addition, he has repeatedly described the ads as nonpolitical issue ads because they didn’t explicitly tell voters to vote for or against anyone.

Revenue at Crossroads GPS jumped to more than $69 million in 2014 from a low of about $3.4 million in 2013, a non-election year.

Spending soared, too, from slightly more than $4 million to nearly $66 million.

Crossroads GPS reported receiving 80 contributions of $5,000 or more during 2014, including one for $20.6 million and another for $14.5 million.

The group spent more than $13.6 million on grants to other groups, all described as for the purpose of “social welfare.”

In response to a request for comment on the grants, Crossroads GPS spokesman Ian Prior said they were not made for political purposes.

“We made grants to other non-profit organizations to promote the (c)4 mission of Crossroads GPS,” he said in an email. “We are confident based on our written agreements with each one of those non-profit organizations that our grants were used for the non-political purposes that they were given.”

Michael Beckel contributed to this report.

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Mark Sullivan
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Mark Sullivan

Trump needs to conduct these activities because the entire MSM media, excluding Fox, is campaigning against him 24/7/365.

Didn’t Monica’s boyfriend’s wife and various criminal enterprises outspend Trump by almost 2-1?

CapitalistRoader
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CapitalistRoader

Why wouldn’t he get an early start on fund raising? Hillary outspent him two-to-one in 2016. The Dem’s are the party of big money. The President knows this and is attempting to get a jump on it. Of course the Dem candidate will outspend him in 2020 so it’s only rational that he starts fund raising now.

George Young
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George Young

Oh brother. We just 8 years of the Campaigner – in – Chief. Where was this journalistic rectal thermometer then. Just another article about 2000 words too long that merely takes another slap at Trump for something he far from initiated.

j stevenson
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j stevenson

The big difference between Trump and all the rest is his refusing to accept funds from lobbyists, so they don’t have the White House access they are used to. These are the donors who buy the presidency and are as pixxed off that he won the election as are the media and the Dems. Lobbyists have never been shut out of the WH and Trump has told them he is not for sale.

jan v
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jan v

all the lobbyists are running all our government agencies and all the career civil servants who know how to run the country have been fired. YOU think this is a good thing ? what a crock…

thomas alessi
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thomas alessi

I am for Trump

Anonymous
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Anonymous

Trump needs to be impeached and tossed in prison. Then have the key thrown away so he will never be free. Then he can see how it feels not to have freedom.

Mark Sullivan
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Mark Sullivan

Thank you for the usual insightful leftist low IQ Snowflake response.

barney
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hes not imprisoning them hes sending them back to their country chill tf out

SOUTH JERSEY
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SOUTH JERSEY

WHY DONT YOU HAVE FREEDOM?

Tom Larkin
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Tom Larkin

First, something positive. I was happy to learn of empirical information in article. BUT, the article was so slanted against President Trump as to be deemed fake news (“Perhaps Trump just lied.” (Two different issues)). The article mentions that President Trump raised over $67 million, but ended 2018 with $19 million. President Trump spent over $40 million 2016 and 2017. President Trump conducted 57 political rallies. The article notes the hats and T-shirts sold, but NEVER MENTIONS THE INCREASE IN THE NUMBER OF REPUBLICAN SENATORS during a mid-term election that lost the House and the number of political rallies in… Read more »

Ted Sirois
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Ted Sirois

At least Trump is getting donations from willing donors. Fresh from his first election, Obama used billions of our children’s tax dollars to save thousands of union jobs in the car industry and bailed out the banks and many Wall Street businesses. This secured his source of reelection funds for his reelection four years later.

South Jersey
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South Jersey

TRUMP 2020; IS AN AMAZINGLY SMART MAN! VERY ORIGINAL & CREATIVE. I AM HAPPY TO HAVE HIS AS POTUS.

SOUTH JERSEY
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SOUTH JERSEY

THIS ARTICLE WAS OBVIOUSLY WRITTEN BY, A TRUMP-HATE-GROUP. THAT FEELS; IT IS NOT NORMAL TO BE SUCCESSFUL WITH YOUR OWN BRAND NAME. WHEN, IF FACT, IT IS NORMAL! >>>>> THIS IS >>> FAKE NEWS!!! <<<< ie: A PACK-OF-LIES; SPUN INTO; DEFAMATION OF CHARACTER. FOR A SINISTER-AGENDA OF; FASCIST DEMOCRATIC SOCIALIST, COUP D'ETAT

David
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David

Are you on some kind of drugs? Writing in caps makes me think that you are grumpy old fart or a uneducated hillbilly.