Crossroads GPS charges into House race

With this ad targeting Rep. Tim Bishop, D-N.Y., Crossroads GPS is now active at all levels of the national election.

Crossroads GPS, a conservative nonprofit outside spending group, began a $2.3 million ad campaign Wednesday, including the Crossroads network’s first reported foray into congressional races and ads in four tightly contested Senate races. With its entry into the House race, Crossroads is now active at all levels of the national election.

This campaign is part of a larger $10 million-plus offensive from Republican strategist Karl Rove’s Crossroads network that began this week. Super PAC American Crossroads just announced an $8.8 million campaign targeting President Barack Obama.

Crossroads GPS’ ads target Senate races in Montana, Nevada, North Dakota and Wisconsin as well as New York’s 1st Congressional District, where Republicans are trying to oust Democratic Rep. Tim Bishop:

  • Number One” opposes Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., who faces a challenge from Republican Rep. Denny Rehberg. A report with the Federal Election Commission shows the initial buy cost $615,000.
  • Shameful” opposes Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., who is challenging Republican Sen. Dean Heller. The ad focuses on her support of the Affordable Care Act and her ethics investigation.
  • Your Vote” opposes former North Dakota Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp, the Democrat running for U.S. Senate against Rep. Rick Berg, a Republican. The ad focuses on Heitkamp’s support of the Affordable Care Act. FEC reports show the initial buy at $139,000.
  • Dang Right” opposes Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., who is running against former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson, a Republican. The ad shows Baldwin yelling, “You’re damn right we’re making a difference,” followed by the narrator asking, “Tired of all the shouting? Tammy Baldwin is just out of touch with Wisconsin.”
  • Judgment” opposes Rep. Tim Bishop, the Democrat representing New York’s 1st District. Bishop is being challenged by Republican businessman Randy Altschuler. The ad focuses on an incident in which Bishop allegedly helped a constituent in exchange for a campaign contribution.

The anti-Bishop expenditure by Crossroads is its first in this election, but Bishop is no stranger to the group.

In 2010, just after Bishop barely beat Altschuler for the first time, Crossroads launched radio ads urging Bishop to support extending tax cuts. Because the ad did not explicitly urge a yes-or-no vote for Bishop — the election had just concluded, after all — it did not need to be reported to the FEC.

The new Crossroads ads come a week after ads by Prosperity First, a super PAC that appears to be solely dedicated to ousting Bishop. Prosperity First is bankrolled by wealthy hedge fund executive Robert Mercer, as the Center for Public Integrity reported last week.

As a 501(c)(4) nonprofit, Crossroads GPS is not required to publicly disclose its donors.

The super PAC and nonprofit have primarily focused their spending on the presidential race. American Crossroads’ newest ad, “Next,” features business owners who say Obama’s economic policies have hurt them, including one man who says Obama treats them like “the enemy.” The presidential ads will run in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio and Virginia, according to Politico.

American Crossroads’ biggest donors include Harold Simmons and his chemical company Contran Corp., homebuilder Bob Perry, former Univision owner Jerry Perenchio, and Crow Holdings, which is owned by real estate mogul Harlan Crow.

In other outside spending news:

  • Pro-Obama super PAC Priorities USA Action released “Doors,” an ad capitalizing on the secretly recorded fundraising video recently released of GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
  • The NEA Fund for Children and Public Education, the PAC of the National Education Association, reported spending $1.1 million opposing Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, the Republican challenging incumbent Republican Sherrod Brown for U.S. Senate, and opposing Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, who faces a challenge from Democrat and former teacher, Christie Vilsack.
  • The U.S. Chamber of Commerce released “A Vote Against American Energy Security,” which opposes Brown’s re-election in Ohio. The Chamber has endorsed his opponent Mandel for U.S. Senate.
  • The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee released “Gutting Medicare,” which opposes Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wis. Duffy is challenged by former Wisconsin state Sen. Pat Kreitlow, a Democrat. It also ran an ad opposing former Arizona state Sen. Jonathan Paton, who is running for U.S. House in Arizona’s 1st District, and an ad in the U.S. Senate race in Florida opposing Rep. Allen West, a Republican. The DCCC reported spending $2.4 million on these and other ads.
  • The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee released an ad opposing Indiana State Treasurer Richard Mourdock for Senate.
  • Waste” from Majority PAC, a super PAC supporting Democrats running for Senate, opposes former Sen. George Allen, a Republican who faces Kaine, Virginia’s former governor.
  • The Now or Never PAC, a conservative super PAC, reported spending $810,000 in support of Rep. Joe Walsh, R-Ill., who is challenged by Democrat Tammy Duckworth, an Iraq veteran and former Assistant Secretary of Veterans Affairs.
  • Conservative super PAC FreedomWorks for America, which the Daily Disclosure reported released a spate of online ads this week, reported spending$2.3 million on online advertising supporting Republicans and opposing Democrats.
  • Center Forward, formerly the Blue Dog Democrats, spent $552,000 on ads opposing three Republicans: “Struggle,” opposes Georgia state Rep. Lee Anderson in the state’s 12th District race; “Problem” opposes Saratoga Springs, Utah, Mayor Mia Love in the state’s 4th District race; and “Refuse” opposes Mourdock in Indiana's U.S. Senate race. 

Who paid for that political ad? You might be surprised by the answer. Email us at disclosure@publicintegrity.org and we will try to find out. Describe the advertisement — was it mean or nice? Will it affect your vote? When and where did it run and what were the names of the candidates? And please tell us what the disclaimer at the end says, and we will check it out.

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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