Revenue at Crossroads GPS, one of the nation’s largest politically active nonprofits, crashed from nearly $180 million in 2012 to about $3.4 million in 2013 — a non-election year, according to new tax filings reviewed by the Center for Public Integrity.
Crossroads GPS reported spending slightly more than $4 million in 2013.
The bulk of the money it raised in 2013 – more than $2.6 million – came from 17 contributors giving $5,000 or more, including four who gave $500,000 each, the largest listed amount.
The rest, $706,605, was attributed to vendor refunds, according to the tax filings. In 2012, the group reported 291 contributions of $5,000 or more and donations of $1 million or more made up 83 percent of its funding. Its largest donation that year was $22.5 million.
Crossroads GPS told the IRS it spent no money on political activities in 2013, another contrast with 2012, when it reported spending more than $74 million.
As a “social welfare” nonprofit organized under section 501(c)(4) of the U.S. tax code, Crossroads GPS is not required to disclose the identities of its donors. By law, it may not have a “primary purpose” of engaging in political activity.
The group is among the most prominent nonprofits to face scrutiny by federal regulators over its political activity in the wake of the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. It is also a frequent target of campaign finance reformers who argue it should register as a political committee and reveal its donors.
Crossroads GPS, co-founded by Republican political operative Karl Rove and strategist Ed Gillespie, has maintained it adheres to federal laws governing nonprofits.
It reported making a single grant in 2013 to an outside organization — $7,612 to the Conservative Policy Project, another group organized as a social welfare organization. The purpose of the grant is described as “social welfare.”
Paul Lindsay, a spokesman for Crossroads GPS, said the group was newly established at the time and “received a grant from us for administration expenses. The organization has since been terminated.”
Its largest grant in 2012, $26.4 million, went to Americans for Tax Reform, an anti-tax group run by Grover Norquist that in 2013 made a large contribution to a nonprofit group that advocates for Republican candidates.
Crossroads GPS and its sister super PAC, American Crossroads, reported spending a combined $176.4 million on the 2012 elections, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Roughly $70 million of that was spent by Crossroads GPS. The groups’ money was spent in support of Republican candidates.
Crossroads GPS ended 2013 with $2.23 million in assets, according to its tax return.
During the 2014 election cycle, the Crossroads groups spent a combined $47.7 million on federal elections, with about $26 million of that coming from Crossroads GPS.
Crossroads GPS sponsored more U.S. Senate-focused television ads this election cycle — more than 30,000 — than any other single organization that primarily supported Republicans. It ranked second overall to Democrat-backing super PAC Senate Majority PAC.
Such spending by Crossroads GPS is an indication that the organization was able to raise tens of millions of dollars during 2014 — although firm numbers won't likely be known for another year, when the group files its next tax return. The Wall Street Journal in October quoted Lindsay as saying the group had raised $75 million.