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The Washington Post

Conservative Group, Flush with Funds, Turns to House

Dan Eggen

Former White House adviser Karl Rove, shown in this May 17 file photo, has $56 million in campaign cash. Where will he spend it? (Sue Ogrocki/AP/File)

The conservative group American Crossroads, which has been singled out
for criticism by President Obama and other Democrats, said Wednesday
that it has shattered its fundraising goals in the face of such attacks
and will now expand its efforts into House races as a result.

American Crossroads and its nonprofit affiliate, Crossroads GPS, will
join two other Republican-friendly groups in a "House surge strategy,"
spending up to $50 million in competitive districts over the next three
weeks, officials said. The Crossroads groups will also expand their
spending in Senate races.

The plans pose yet another threat to Democrats' wavering hold on
Congress, as Republicans and their allies expand the playing field into
more states.

A tide of record expenditures by outside groups has allowed Republicans
to broaden their targets well beyond the 40 seats needed to take over
the House and put them within striking distance of winning the Senate.
Embattled Democrats, by contrast, are retreating from some districts in
an attempt to minimize their expected losses.

The GOP expenditures have come under increasing criticism from Obama and other Democrats,
who have focused on the big-spending Chamber of Commerce and the two
Crossroads affiliates, which were formed with the encouragement of
Republican political guru Karl Rove. The attacks have included
unsubstantiated allegations by the Democratic National Committee and
others that the chamber might be spending foreign donations on U.S.
elections, an accusation the business lobby denies.

Crossroads spokesman Jonathan Collegio said conservative outrage over
the Democratic attacks helped the Crossroads group raise more than $13
million in the past week, shattering the group's $52 million fundraising
goal for the cycle. The two affiliates now expect to raise $65 million
by Nov. 2.

"Democrats who lose in November due to the surge strategy or expanded
Senate efforts can send thank-you notes to the White House and DNC,
which helped us generate the funding for this strategy," Collegio said.


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The other groups involved in the House spending campaign are the
American Action Network, headed by former senator Norm Coleman (R) of
Minnesota, and the Commission on Hope, Growth and Opportunity, founded
by GOP campaign consultant Scott Reed.

Facing an onslaught of attack ads and dismal poll numbers, top Democrats
have sought to raise questions about Crossroads GPS and other outside
groups that do not have to disclose their donors because they are
organized as nonprofit organizations. A recent Washington Post analysis found that most outside expenditures are made by groups that do not have to reveal their donors.

Obama said at a rally Sunday that "you don't know" whether groups such
as the chamber are using money from big business or foreign nationals to
fund election ads. Vice President Biden escalated the criticism by
challenging the chamber to open its books and arguing that denials of
foreign influence could not be trusted.

Spending by groups outside the political parties has eclipsed $100
million, according to Federal Election Commission records, which do not
include tens of millions of dollars in other political ads not reported
to the FEC. The liberal Media Matters Action Network says it has tallied
more than 60,000 ads from conservative groups since August.

The chamber has pledged to spend up to $75 million on the midterms, almost exclusively in favor of Republicans.

On Wednesday, Crossroads said it was pouring an additional $3.7 million
into Senate contests in Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri
and Nevada, and will contribute $10 million to the joint House effort
with the Coleman and Reed groups. The Crossroads affiliates say they
have raised $56 million so far; only donors to the main political
committee will be reported to the FEC.

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