American Crossroads’ $8 million buy

Karl Rove, the strategist behind American Crossroads, has helped the super PAC raise more than almost any other outside spender.

Conservative super PAC American Crossroads made one of the largest single ad buys of the election so far, spending nearly $8 million on ads opposing President Barack Obama, the group reported to the Federal Election Commission Friday.

 Co-founded by Republican strategist Karl Rove, American Crossroads spent $7.9 million on air time to Crossroads Media and $40,000 on ad production to McCarthy-Hennings Media Inc., the same firm that created the negative ads for pro-Mitt Romney super PAC Restore Our Future.

American Crossroads posted “Build” on YouTube Friday, an ad attacking Obama’s position on small business, and “Smoke” on Thursday, which blames Obama for not fixing the economy and frames Obama’s attacks on Mitt Romney’s business record as a smokescreen.

“Smoke” is airing for 11 days in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio and Virginia, according to news reports. American Crossroads has not issued a press release.

One of the ad’s central claims, that Obama added $4 billion in new debt every day, is misleading, according to an analysis by the Associated Press.

Congress holds the nation’s purse strings. Furthermore, the ad takes an overly simplistic view that the national debt is a major driver of the weak economy, according to the AP analysis.

This ad campaign from American Crossroads comes just as its sister nonprofit, Crossroads GPS, finishes up its own $8 million ad blitz in the same states with the ad “Tried,” which ran from July 12 until Sunday, according to apress release (because the ad is considered an “electioneering communication” under FEC rules, it was not reported to the FEC).

“Tried” repeats the same $4-billion-a-day debt figure and uses much of the same language as “Smoke.”

American Crossroads finished June with $31.5 million cash on hand, it reported Friday in its monthly filing. Of the $5.8 million American Crossroads brought in last month (its best month ever), $2 million of that came from homebuilder and super donor Bob Perry. The group also received several half-million-dollar donations in June:

  • John Childs of Vero Beach, Fla. Childs is the CEO and chairman of J.W. Childs & Associates, a private equity firm.
  • Craig McCaw of Kirkland, Wash. McCaw is a pioneer of the cellular telephone industry and the CEO of Eagle River Investments, a venture capital fund.
  • Mercury Trust of Menlo Park, Calif. The Center for Responsive Politics identified Mercury Trust as an affiliate of Fox Paine and Co., a private equity firm.
  • Childs has given mostly to Republican candidates and committees over the years. In addition to American Crossroads, in June he gave $1 million to pro-Mitt Romney super PAC Restore Our Future and to conservative super PAC Club for Growth Action.

McCaw, who is worth $1.6 billion, according to Forbes, made his fortune in the telecom industry, went on to be CEO of Clearwire and now runs Eagle River Investments.

McCaw has contributed nearly $300,000 since 2008 almost exclusively to Republican candidates, though he did give $2,300 to Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. He supported former Republican Gov. Jon Huntsman of Utah in the 2012 GOP primary race and gave $37,500 to pro-Huntsman super PAC Our Destiny, according to CRP.

The CEO of Fox Paine and Co., Saul Fox, has given $91,000 almost entirely to Republican candidates and committees since 2008, according to CRP, and Fox Paine and Co. has given $142,050 to mostly Republican candidates and parties since 2000, according to the Sunlight Foundation. This appears to be the first election Mercury Trust has made a political donation.

Mercury Trust also gave $425,000 to Restore Our Future in June.

In other outside spending news

  • Arizona’s 5th Congressional District is getting some love from tea-party-aligned super PACs. National Horizon, an Arizona-focused super PAC, began airing Thursday “A Man’s Word,” a $29,000 television spot supporting Republican congressional candidate Matt Salmon, a former congressman. National Horizon was formed in April 2012 and has the financial backing of C. Boyden Gray, a co-chairman of the FreedomWorks Foundation board of directors.
  • National Horizon also debuted Sunday “Prince Ben,” a fairy tale-themed attack ad opposing Rep. Ben Quayle, R-Ariz., who is running for re-election to the U.S. House in Arizona’s 3rd District. Quayle is son of former Vice President Dan Quayle.
  • Conservative Renewal PAC, which backs Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, R-Texas, released a television ad Friday, “Ted Cruz will say and do anything to get elected.” Cruz is Dewhurst’s Republican challenger in the upcoming GOP U.S. Senate runoff in Texas.
  • The Campaign to Defeat Barack Obama, a super PAC supporting conservative candidates, countered Saturday with a television and radio ad supporting Cruz, the former solicitor general of Texas. Next to the presidential race, the Texas Senate race has seen the most money from super PACs and nonprofits.
  • Club for Growth, a conservative nonprofit, is one of the biggest spenders in the U.S. Senate race in Arizona, with a $416,000 direct mail campaign that began July 19. The super PAC supports Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., over Republican Wilford Cardon, a wealthy real estate investor, to replace retiring Republican Sen. Jon Kyl.
  • Club for Growth Action, the sister super PAC to Club for Growth, spent more than $58,000 on a direct mail campaign on July 20 opposing Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., according to an FEC filing over the weekend.
  • The University of Hawaii Professional Assembly is becoming more active in several of Hawaii’s races. The group spent more than $14,000 on radio ads supporting Mufi Hannemann, the Democratic candidate for the U.S. House in Hawaii’s 2nd District. The ads began airing July 18, filings with the FEC Friday show.
  • The University of Hawaii Professional Assembly also dropped nearly$44,000 on direct mail and TV and radio ads supporting the Senate run of Rep. Ed Case, D-Hawaii. The two television ads, Kama'aina andTestimonial, debuted July 9 but were not reported to the FEC until July 20, records show.
  • The Sierra Club spent almost $19,000 on direct mail services last Wednesday opposing the Senate run of former Republican Rep. Heather Wilson in New Mexico, and the League of Conservation Voters spent$63,000 on Friday on mailers opposing the congressional run of former Democratic Rep. Ciro Rodriguez in Texas, FEC filings on Friday show.

 

About the author

Rachael Marcus is a reporter with the Center for Public Integrity, a non-profit, non-partisan independent investigative news outlet, which contributes campaign finance coverage to Marketplace. For more of their reporting on money and politics go to publicintegrity.org.

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