Oct. 13, 2010
FEC Should Investigate Crossroads GPS for Campaign Finance Law Violations, Watchdogs Say in Complaint to FEC
Rove Group Appears to Operate As a Political Committee But Is Not Registered As One, Say Public Citizen and Protect Our Elections
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Crossroads Grassroots Political Strategies, an organization created by Republican strategists Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie to influence the midterm elections with huge expenditures of money, appears to be violating federal campaign law, Public Citizen and Protect Our Elections told the Federal Election Commission (FEC) in a complaint filed today.
The complaint explains that there is ample reason to believe that Crossroads GPS, which is registered as a nonprofit 501c(4) organization, is in fact a political committee and should be subject to the restrictions and disclosure rules for political committees, the groups say.
Crossroads GPS was formed in July 2010 by Rove and Gillespie, a former Republican National Committee chairman. It shares offices with American Crossroads, a registered political committee created this year that also is the brainchild of Rove and Gillespie, according to published reports.
Rove has boasted on Fox News that American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS were avenues for donors who have “maxed out” contributions to federal Republican political committees to funnel money into the 2010 elections. So far, both groups have spent about $18 million to influence key Senate races. American Crossroads’ board chairman told one newspaper that both groups planned to spend nearly $50 million on the U.S. Senate races. Crossroads GPS, by its own admission, has made several million dollars in expenditures for express campaign advocacy. The threshold for registration as a political committee is only $1,000. A group that meets that threshold must register if its major purpose is to influence elections, which by all accounts seems to be Crossroads GPS’ raison d’etre.
Crossroads GPS appears to be violating numerous provisions of the Federal Election Campaign Act by failing to register as a political committee, failing to file political committee financial disclosure reports and failing to comply with the political committee organizational requirements, the complaint says.
“American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS are this year’s poster children for everything wrong with our campaign finance system in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen. “The decision paved the way for unlimited corporate spending on elections, and more generally signaled that Wild West rules now prevail for elections. Yet Crossroads GPS manages to transgress the modest rules still in place, failing to register with the Federal Election Commission as a political committee. We need the FEC to act to redress this apparently wrongful activity. More than that, we need Congress to pass the DISCLOSE Act, so we know which corporations and billionaires are behind the attack ads now polluting our airwaves. We need Congress to pass the Fair Elections Now Act, to replace the private election financing system now poisoning our democracy. And we need a constitutional amendment to overturn the Citizens United decision and get corporate money out of elections.”
Added Kevin Zeese, attorney and spokesperson for Protect Our Elections, “This is the first election since Citizens United allowed unlimited spending by corporations on elections. They have abused this already too broad power by misusing the tax laws and avoiding campaign finance laws. It is a violation of federal election laws to launder anonymous donations for electioneering activity through nonprofit groups that are allowed to receive anonymous contributions only if their primary purpose is non-electoral activity.”
A copy of the complaint is available at https://www.citizen.org/sites/default/files/fec-complaint-americanxroadsgps101310.pdf or https://www.citizen.org/sites/default/files/fec_complaint_americanxroadsgps101310.pdf.