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PAC profile: American Crossroads

Quick stats on the super PAC

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Type of organization: Super PAC

Supports: Republican candidates

Founded: July 9, 2010

Website: americancrossroads.org

Social Media: YouTube channel, Facebook page, Twitter profile

Principals:

  • Mike Duncan (chairman): Served as chairman, treasurer and general counsel of the Republican National Committee. Also worked on the campaigns of Presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan and both Bushes.
  • Steven Law (president and CEO): Deputy secretary of the Labor Department under President George W. Bush; also served as executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee in 1998 and 2000. He was chief of staff for Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., from 1991 to 1997. He also served as chief counsel to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
  • Carl Forti (political director): Deputy campaign manager for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign in 2008, and a co-founder of the pro-Romney super PAC, Restore Our Future.
  • Karl Rove (co-founder, adviser): Former political stragetist for President George W. Bush.
  • Ed Gillespie (co-founder): Former chairman of the Republican National Committee and an adviser to President George W. Bush. In April, he became an adviser of GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s campaign.
  • Haley Barbour (fundraiser): Former governor of Mississippi, lobbyist and fundraiser.

Profile:

As one of the best-funded, highest profile super PACs in the country, American Crossroads stated an intention to raise and spend $300 million in the 2012 election cycle, along with its sister nonprofit group Crossroads GPS, which can solicit unlimited dollars from donors without having to disclose the names of donors. The two groups are prohibited from coordinating their ad spending with candidates or the national party committees. Through Election Day, American Crossroads alone spent almost $105 million, mostly on negative ads.

Formed in 2010 and viewed as a “shadow RNC,” American Crossroads launched following the 2008 campaign that saw Democrats sweep elections around the country. The organization quickly became a favorite target for liberals concerned about the group’s influence. In 2010, the first election cycle to operate under the post-Citizens United campaign finance rules, the group spent nearly $22 million on ads designed to aid Republicans nationwide.

The super PAC is heavily tied into the Republican establishment, featuring well-known figures like Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie alongside lesser-known GOP insiders like Steven Law and Carl Forti.

A Center for Public Integrity investigation discovered that 62 percent of funds raised in 2010 and 2011 by Crossroads and its sister group, Crossroads GPS, came from unknown donors. Together, the two groups raised $123 million through the end of 2011 — $76.8 million to the nonprofit GPS, and $46.4 million to the American Crossroads super PAC.

During the 2012 election cycle, the biggest donor to American Crossroads was Harold Simmons, who gave $20.5 million to American Crossroads from his own checkbook and another $2 million from his company, Contran Corp.

In 2010, Simmons also gave $2 million to American Crossroads, all of which came from two other corporate accounts that he controls — Dixie Rice Agricultural Corp. ($1 million) and Southwest Louisiana Land, LLC ($1 million).

These large contributions made Simmons responsible for nearly 43 percent of the first $28 million American Crossroads raised for the 2012 elections, as the Center for Public Integrity previously reported. Fellow Texans Bob Perry and Robert Rowling combined with Simmons to provide about 54 percent of the money American Crossroads raised between the super PAC's creation in 2010 and March of 2012. 

American Crossroads spent more than $91 million on ads in the presidential race, or about 87 of its total spending, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, as it tried to help Republican Mitt Romney oust President Barack Obama.

Aside from Obama, the group's biggest targets this election cycle included several incumbent senator and Senate candidates, including Bill Nelson of Florida, Jon Tester of Montana, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Bob Kerrey of Nebraska and Tim Kaine of Virginia. All of those Democrats were victorious on Election Day, with the exception of Kerrey.

In the New Mexico Senate race, the group adopted the somewhat unusual tactic of running only ads supporting Republican Heather Wilson. According to Federal Election Commission records, American Crossroads spent nearly $430,000 in June on pro-Wilson ads and no money on ads attacking her opponent, Democratic Rep. Martin Heinrich, who prevailed in November.

Over the entire 2012 election cycle, American Crossroads saw its preferred candidates win in just 3 of 13 races, the Center for Public Integrity calcuated.

Advertisements:

  • The group launched an anti-Obama ad in October entitled “Don’t,” attacking the president on taxes.
  • In September, Crossroads spent $64,000 to run an advertisement against Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.
  • "Skips" accused Obama of absenteeism in the White House.
  • The sarcasic "Run, Joe. Run" made fun of Vice President Joe Biden.
  • "Build" repeated the out-of-context Obama quote, "You didn't build that." Obama was referring to government-funded infrastructure like bridges, not Americans' small businesses.
  • Form more ads, see American Crossraods' YouTube channel.

Last Updated: Jan. 14, 2013