- Associated Press - Monday, September 20, 2010

The Republican’s shadow party is basking in the shade.

Two affiliated groups led by a blue-chip cast of Washington Republican strategists have raised a combined $32 million this year, using new freedom from fundraising restrictions to create a parallel and unofficial Republican campaign to defeat Democrats in November.

American Crossroads and its political sibling, Crossroads GPS, raised about $14.5 million in the 30-day period that ended Sunday, a signal that their aggressive advertising and voter outreach in key Senate battleground states have struck a chord with Republican donors.

Word that the group nearly doubled their previous fundraising in just four weeks comes as President Obama renews his attack on Republican outside groups that have been airing ads against Democrats.

The two Crossroads groups have run ads attacking Democrats or supporting Republicans in Senate contests in Nevada, Ohio, Colorado, Missouri, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and California. New rounds of ads are scheduled for this week in Missouri and Colorado, as well as new spots in Nevada and New Hampshire, American Crossroads spokesman Jonathan Collegio said.

The two groups were launched under the direction of two of President George W. Bush’s top political advisers, Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie, who still serve as informal advisers. They are among the most prominent groups in an emerging network of Republican-allied organizations that are helping make this year’s midterm elections the most expensive on record.

Under rules liberalized by both the Supreme Court and a federal appellate court, American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS can raise unlimited amounts of money from individuals and corporations. American Crossroads is registered with the Federal Election Commission and must reveal its donors, but Crossroads GPS is registered only as a nonprofit with the IRS and doesn’t have to disclose its sources of money.

Mr. Obama on Saturday decried “the flood of deceptive attack ads sponsored by special interests using front groups with misleading names. We don’t know who’s behind these ads or who’s paying for them.”

Democrats in the past have organized similar outside groups to assist the party, but new court rulings have made it easier for groups that can conceal donors to raise money in unlimited amounts.

Legislation to require groups that air political ads to divulge their donors passed the House this year but has stalled in the Senate. Another vote to break the Senate stalemate could come in the next few weeks.

The fundraising figures, made available to the Associated Press, put the two Crossroads groups on track to meet their goal of $52 million by Election Day, and put them on virtually the same financial footing as the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Among the other groups helping Republicans with millions in ad spending are the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; a group founded by billionaire conservative David Koch called Americans for Prosperity; and a California-based political action committee called the Tea Party Express that has capitalized on the loose, grass-roots “tea party” movement.

That assistance is designed to make up for the financial advantage the national Democratic Party has over the Republican Party. What’s more, organized labor plans to spend $100 million or more for Democrats.

But the success of American Crossroads and the alliances it has forged with other nonparty political groups to carry out a coordinated media and ground-game strategy have caused a stir within the Democratic Party.

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