GOP groups seek to raise $120M to spend against Obama, other Democrats in 2012

By Dan Eggen
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 1, 2011; 5:58 PM

Two advocacy groups tied to GOP political guru Karl Rove said Tuesday that they plan to raise $120 million to spend against President Obama and other Democrats in 2012.

The announcement suggests that the American Crossroads "super PAC" and its nonprofit sister group, Crossroads GPS, are likely to assume a leading role among Republican interest groups over the next 20 months.

The two groups raised more than $71 million in their first year, outspending all other outside advocacy groups in the 2010 elections, Federal Election Commission records show.

Crossroads GPS spokesman Jonathan Collegio characterized the new fundraising goal as an effort to form a counterweight to labor unions, who spent heavily in support of Obama and other Democrats in 2008.

"You can't outspend the unions - but you can outcompete them with a faster and leaner organization that offers more bang for the buck," Collegio said in a news release. "That is what the Crossroads groups plan to do in 2012."

If the Crossroads groups meet their goal, they would still lag behind the efforts of Democrat-aligned groups in 2004. That year the top two liberal independent groups raised a combined $140 million to oppose the reelection of President George W. Bush.

The Media Fund raised $59 million for television advertising, while the union-backed America Coming Together raised $79 million for an organizing campaign with paid canvassers making phone calls and going door-to-door.

Crossroads GPS, formed in early 2010, has so far concentrated its resources almost exclusively on broadcast advertising and direct mail. Collegio said that strategy will change later this year with the formation of a "presidential action fund" focused on polling, research, issue advocacy and voter turnout.

Collegio said American Crossroads spent just 2 percent of its budget on fundraising costs and 2 percent on administrative costs, numbers that are "considerably lower than similar organizations on the left or right."

American Crossroads - which reports contributions but has no fundraising limits - relied almost exclusively on a small group of wealthy conservative donors in 2010. FEC records show that more than 80 percent of the group's funding came from donors giving $100,000 or more, including $7 million from Texas home builder Bob J. Perry, a top financier of the Swift Boat campaign against Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) in 2004.

As a separate nonprofit, Crossroads GPS does not have to report its donors publicly.

Staff writer T.W. Farnam contributed to this report.

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