Texas home builder Bob Perry donated $7 million to American Crossroads, helping the political group advised by Republican strategist Karl Rove raise almost $15 million in about six weeks.
Perry was a top donor in 2004 to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, which ran ads against Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry. Perry made a series of donations to American Crossroads between Sept. 1 and Oct. 13, according to reports the group is preparing to file with the Federal Election Commission.
American Crossroads and its sister group, Crossroads GPS, have raised at least $56 million to spend on the Nov. 2 congressional elections. They are part of a wave of Republican- leaning organizations that are making up for a fundraising advantage held by Democratic Party committees.
“The power of individual wealthy Americans is rising to levels not seen since the ‘robber baron’ days,” said Steffen Schmidt, a political science professor at Iowa State University in Ames. “Bob Perry’s case is just the tip of the iceberg.”
Perry couldn’t be reached for comment yesterday. American Crossroads released the reports after the close of normal business hours.
Crossroads GPS is set up as a nonprofit issue-advocacy group and doesn’t have to disclose its donors. That has drawn protests from President Barack Obama and fellow Democrats, who say Americans deserve to know who is paying for the ads running across the country.
American Crossroads is part of a new set of organizations dubbed super PACS by election lawyers. They can take unlimited amounts from contributors, yet are required to disclose those donors and detail their spending to the FEC on a regular basis.
Both Crossroads groups have seen a surge in fundraising after the Democratic attacks, spokesman Jonathan Collegio said last week. They now plan to raise $65 million together.
Much of the money has flowed from Texas, where Rove rose to prominence as a political strategist and eventually began working for former President George W. Bush. Robert Rowling, chief executive officer of TRT Holdings Inc., in Irving, Texas, has now given about $2.5 million, according to the latest report.
Among smaller donations, the group reported a $50,000 contribution from real estate developer Donald Trump.
Club for Growth
Another Republican-leaning super PAC, Club for Growth Action, reported raising $1.7 million in September from donors including executives in the financial and energy industries. John Childs, head of the closely held Boston private equity firm J.W. Childs Associates, gave $500,000.
The First Amendment Alliance, which has run ads against Democrats including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and Colorado Senator Michael Bennet, brought in $1.1 million from Aug. 31 to Sept. 30. In addition to contributions from energy and financial executives, the First Amendment Alliance also reported a $50,000 contribution from Perry.
In some cases, the groups are spreading money among themselves. The New Prosperity Foundation, which has spent money to help Mark Kirk, the Republican Senate candidate in Illinois, reported a $250,000 donation from American Crossroads.
The Emily’s List offshoot Women Vote! listed an $80,000 contribution from America’s Families First, which in turn got $500,000 from the International Association of Firefighters. Emily’s List works to elect Democratic women who favor abortion rights; America’s Families First is running ads and sending mail in congressional districts supporting Democratic candidates.
Spending on political ads has risen across the country, according to the Wesleyan Media Project, operated from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. The group said candidates, parties and interest groups spent about $198 million on ads for House and Senate races between Sept. 1 and Oct. 7, an increase of 75 percent from 2008.
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