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Pro-GOP nonprofits kick in millions
Cash to target 11 Senate races
Two outside pro-Republican groups say they will boost their total fundraising to $52 million over the next two months, as the political right begins to play serious catch-up on the left in the use of tax-exempt nonparty organizations in election campaigns.
Mike Duncan, chairman of American Crossroads, told The Washington Times that his group and American Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies plan to plow more than $49 million of it into 11 Senate races in anticipation that the Republican Party is within reach of a Senate majority.
And, in an inversion of the usual image of “coattails” descending from the top of the ticket to a party’s candidates for lower offices, he says a number of Senate seats are in play because of the strength of strong House candidates in the respective states.
But the infusion of such an unexpectedly large amount of cash will have to be used, in part, to offset comparatively anemic fundraising by the Republican National Committee and other official party groups.
Former RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie and ex-White House political strategist Karl Rove encouraged the founding of American Crossroads, a so-called “527” nonprofit campaign group in March, along with Grassroots Policy Strategies, another kind of nonprofit called a “501(c)4,” both monikers deriving from the section of the federal tax code that governs them.
The two groups are latecomers to the “independent expenditure” game that Democrats mastered right after President Bush signed the McCain-Feingold campaign finance regulations into law in 2002.
In the 2004 elections, the four top-fundraising Democratic 527 groups alone - groups founded by Americans Coming Together, Joint Victory Campaign Committee, Media Fund and the Service Employees International Union - spent more than $256 million to get Democrats elected to federal office in 2004. In contrast, the top four pro-Republican 527 groups, none of which spent more than any of the top four Democratic groups, spent only $108 million in that same election.
“The Democrats got out in front of us on these 527s and c4s,” Mr. Duncan said. “Were playing catch-up.”
Unlike Mr. Duncans svelte operation, each major party campaign committee also has a large building and staff to finance and can accept a maximum of $30,400 from individuals.
“We will spend less than $2,600,000 - or 5 percent - on overhead in our $52 million budget if we achieve our goal over the next two months,” said Mr. Duncan, who was Republican National Committee chairman from 2007 to January 2009, a period when the RNC grossed $403.5 million, for a net of $261.2 million in contributions. The RNC had more than $20 million in the bank for the incoming administration of Michael S. Steele.
DNC Chairman Timothy M. Kaine was scheduled to announce his totals Thursday night in St. Louis. The Associated Press reported, citing a party official on the condition of anonymity, that the DNC expected to report raising $11.5 million in July and having $10.8 million in the bank, continuing its several-month streak of besting the RNC. The Republican group will release its numbers Friday.
But Mr. Duncan said American Crossroads March birth was not a reaction to continuing reports of poor management and unmet fundraising goals by the RNC under Mr. Steele. Rather, the group had been in the planning stage virtually since the end of the Bush administration.
These 527s and c4s have other advantages and disadvantages compared with their respective national party committees. On the “up” side, besides being able to accept unlimited amounts of money, they have fewer disclosure requirements and do not have to adhere to spending limits.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Chief political writer Ralph Z. Hallow served on the Chicago Tribune, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Washington Times editorial boards, was Ford Foundation Fellow in Urban Journalism at Northwestern University, resident at Columbia University Editorial-Page Editors Seminar and has filed from Berlin, Bonn, London, Paris, Geneva, Vienna, Amman, Beirut, Cairo, Damascus, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Belgrade, Bucharest, Panama and Guatemala.
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