If things go his way, Law could deliver control of the Senate to the Republicans and their leader, McConnell. It would be a fitting outcome for the two, who have spent their careers in part shaping the rules governing how money is spent in politics.
Helped by two Supreme Court rulings, their efforts have led to this moment in politics — an election defined by huge spending and anonymous donors.
In the 1990s, McConnell and Law vigorously fought efforts to limit campaign spending and to finance campaigns with public dollars. For years, they have raised and spent large donations known as soft money, together in the Senate and for Law, at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and now Crossroads.
Filling the Senate majority leader post would satisfy a long-held ambition for the Kentucky Republican, who single-handedly boosted Law from unpaid intern to campaign manager, chief of staff and then Republican Party official, easing his way to the top of Washington’s highest power circles.
“Most of what I’ve learned about politics I learned from him,” Law, 52, says of his mentor.
Now, McConnell, 70, is taking the lead in preventing Democrats and government regulators from cracking down on Law’s group, which has thrived under rules allowing its donors to remain secret.
Democrats, too, have taken advantage of the loosened fundraising environment. After sitting out 2010, liberals organized a trio of political groups that have raised a combined $122 million so far this election cycle.
But no other group has come close to matching Crossroads.
Obama and others have vocally criticized the secrecy of Republican groups such as Crossroads GPS, saying wealthy donors and corporations — including one $10 million donor — are swaying the election without allowing public scrutiny.
“Voters have a right to know who is spending millions of dollars to try and influence their vote,” said Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), who has led the fight in Congress to force groups to disclose donors. “Having shadowy groups influence our elections undermines the strength of our democracy.”
McConnell, a featured speaker at two Crossroads fundraisers this year, has become not only a beneficiary of the secret donations, but also their biggest defender.
He has consistently used his Senate post to block Democratic efforts to force groups such as Crossroads GPS to disclose donors, arguing that liberals are using disclosure as a “political weapon” that would curtail free speech. He contends that contributors should be allowed to give anonymously to avoid attacks by opponents.