Watchdog: Rove-Founded Group Broke the Law By Not Disclosing Certain Donors

Karl Rove.Tom Reel/San Antonio Express-News/ZUMA Press

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.


The watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) claims that Crossroads GPS, the dark-money nonprofit co-founded by GOP political gurus Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie, broke the law by not disclosing certain donors.

In complaints filed with the Federal Election Commission and the FBI, CREW says that Crossroads GPS—which spent more than $70 million on the 2012 elections—violated election law by not naming who funded Crossroads’ ads in Ohio’s Senate race between Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown and Republican Josh Mandel. Under current law, groups like Crossroads don’t have to disclose who funds their ads if their donors don’t earmark their money for a specific purpose—say, for an ad to run on Monday, November 6 attacking Sherrod Brown on the auto bailout. Of course, donors rarely give these kinds of instructions—they mostly fork over their money and let the experts do the work.

But CREW says some of Crossroads’ Ohio Senate bankrollers should be revealed because they did earmark their donations. At an August fundraiser in Tampa, Rove told attendees that an anonymous out-of-state donor had pledged $3 million in matching money specifically to defeat Sherrod Brown. All Rove had to do was raise the other $3 million. “Bob Castellini, owner of the Cincinnati Reds, is helping raise the other $3 million for that one,” Rove said, according to the Bloomberg Businessweek editor who attended the private fundraiser.

That unnamed $3 million donor should be revealed because he or she donated specifically to influence Ohio’s Senate race, CREW contends. “Karl Rove and Crossroads GPS didn’t just skirt around the edges of the law; this time it appears they jumped headlong into a criminal conspiracy,” Melanie Sloan, CREW’s executive director, said in a statement.

Crossroads spokesman Jonathan Collegio dismissed CREW’s claims as politically-motivated nonsense. “CREW is a hyper-partisan, labor-funded front group that files frivolous complaints like this as part of its mission,” Collegio wrote in an email. “Crossroads is aware of the laws governing the groups and follows all of them closely.”

As a nonprofit, Crossroads GPS does not disclose any of its donors. The group was among the biggest-spending dark-money group of the 2012 election cycle. In all, $208 million in dark money was spent during the 2012 elections, according to the Sunlight Foundation. Eight out of every $10 in dark money went to benefit Republicans.

More Mother Jones reporting on Dark Money

REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

payment methods

REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate