WASHINGTON -- The “GPS” in Crossroads GPS ostensibly stands for grassroots policy strategies, but the Washington Post reported Friday that nearly 90 percent of the money flowing through the Karl Rove-associated group has come from as few as two dozen anonymous donors, two of whom gave at least $10 million each.
The group, known for funding hard-hitting attack ads against congressional Democrats in the 2010 elections, has said that it and its sister group, American Crossroads, intend to spend $300 million in this year's elections. Most recently, Crossroads GPS spent $1.7 million on television ads attempting to blame President Barack Obama for high gas prices.
Crossroads GPS won't divulge the names of its donors, citing its self-declared status as a nonprofit organization operating under section 501(c)(4) of the tax code. That section is intended for “social welfare” groups that have a primary mission other than political activity.
The IRS has yet to formally grant Crossroads GPS that status. Several campaign finance reform groups have demanded that Crossroads' request be denied.
The group let the Post see the tax forms it plans to file with the IRS next week. Those forms reportedly disclose that the group has spent about $17 million on “direct election spending.” It also reported spending $27 million on “issue advocacy,” which the Post notes is “often a subtle distinction, since the ads inevitably help one political figure or party.”
Should the IRS consider that spending political in nature, it could well deny the group 501(c)(4) status -- possibly subjecting it to massive fines for nondisclosure.
The Post reported that the group also passed along money from its secret donors to other conservative groups, including $4 million to Americans for Tax Reform and $2 million to the National Right to Life Committee.
The complete domination of Crossroads GPS by large donors is further evidence of a clear trend that has emerged in campaign financing since the Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United decision. Money flowing into the groups that have sprung up in the wake of that decision -- namely Super PACs like American Crossroads and 501(c)(4)s like Crossroads GPS -- have become vehicles for the super-rich to influence politics more easily than any time since before the Watergate era.