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Va. Senate race tops nation in ‘secret money’
Question of the Day
A "secret-money" political group connected to Republican operative Karl Rove spent $1 million Wednesday on television ads opposing Democrat Tim Kaine in the race for Virginia's open Senate seat, bringing total spending by the non-traditional groups opposing him to $2.3 million.
That marks a record for any one congressional candidate.
The latest massive ad-buy is from Crossroads GPS, a branch of Mr. Rove's operation that also includes a super PAC called American Crossroads. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has also bought another $1.3 million in ads opposing Mr. Kaine, who is facing former Sen. George Allen in a battle for the seat Mr. Allen lost in 2006.
The groups are referred to as "secret money" because unlike Super PACs, they are organized through the IRS as "social welfare" organizations and do not report the sources of their funds or their total holdings to the Federal Election Commission (FEC).
Like super PACs, they can raise and spend unlimited amounts from nearly any source, but may not coordinate with candidates. They notify the FEC of advertising expenditures only when the ads directly call for the election or defeat of a candidate — a criteria many highly political ads cleverly avoid.
While Virginia tops the list of money spent against a single candidate, the Nevada Senate race leads in overall money, with $3.1 million spent against Democratic nominee Shelley Berkley and incumbent Republican Sen. Dean Heller.
The secret-money groups have been evenly matched in that race, with the liberal Patriot Majority USA spending $1.1 million opposing Mr. Heller, and Crossroads GPS on Wednesday buying $600,000 in adds opposing Ms. Berkley.
Crossroads GPS did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Total spending on direct advocacy by nonprofit groups in recent months now stands at:
• U.S. Chamber of Commerce: $7.8 million in the last two months, mostly opposing Mr. Kaine and Sen. Bill Nelson, Florida Democrat.
• Americans for Prosperity: $6.6 million this month on ads attacking Mr. Obama's record on expanding the nation's debt.
• Planned Parenthood Action Fund: $3.3 million, mostly opposing presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
• League of Conservation Voters: $2.7 million in the last five months, mostly on Senate races in New Mexico and Montana and House races in Texas and Pennsylvania.
• Crossroads GPS: $2.1 million in the last month on the Nevada and Virginia Senate races.
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About the Author
Luke Rosiak is a projects reporter on The Washington Times’ investigative team. He formerly covered lobbying and campaign finance for two watchdog groups as well as transportation for The Washington Post. Luke can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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