Crossroads GPS would not identify the donors, who could be individuals, corporations or other interest groups, and under tax and campaign laws, it is not required to disclose them. It is possible that both $10 million donations come from the same source.
The huge contributions, which make the donors among the top political givers in recent history, offer new evidence of the altered world of campaign finance: After the Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, spending by interest groups has risen dramatically. The landmark ruling allowed corporations, unions and nonprofit groups such as Crossroads GPS to spend money directly on electoral politics. Crossroads GPS and its sister group, American Crossroads, hope to spend up to $300 million in the 2012 election cycle,promoting conservative ideas and helping elect Republicans up and down the ballot.
The two groups, which are run by the same Republican operatives and can both collect donations of any size, have become one of the biggest forces attacking Obama and other Democrats. They already have spent more than $11 million on ads against Obama, according to media tracking firm Kantar Media/CMAG.
Crossroads GPS, which made the tax forms available to The Washington Post, is set to file them with the IRS and make them publicly available next week. Jonathan Collegio, a spokesman for both Crossroads groups, said that Crossroads GPS “advocates for free markets, free trade, limited government and personal responsibility” and that donors to the group are “individuals and businesses that support our vision of lower taxes and smaller government.”
“We believe President Obama’s tax and regulatory policies are strangling economic growth through excessive regulation and government spending that is crowding out private investment,” he said in a statement.
The tax returns show that Crossroads GPS has collected the vast majority of its donations from the super-rich. The forms show that nearly 90 percent of its contributions through the end of 2011 had come from as few as two dozen donors, each giving $1 million or more. Overall, the nonprofit group raised more than $76 million since it was founded in May 2010 through the end of 2011.
“That’s certainly not a grass-roots movement,” said Bill Allison, editorial director of the Sunlight Foundation, which advocates for transparency in government and politics.“These donors can have a very disproportionate effect on politics, and the fact that we don’t know who they are and what kind of favors they will ask for is very troubling.”
Allison suggested that the big donors to Crossroads GPS could include large public corporations, which for the most part have not donated to super PACs or other groups that disclose donors.