Rove-Led Groups Report Raising $56 Million to Help Elect More Republicans

Two Republican-leaning political groups affiliated with Karl Rove said they have raised $56 million, more than their initial goal of $50 million.

American Crossroads, which discloses its donors, and Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies, which doesn’t, have been among the biggest outside spenders for the 2010 elections. Rove, who was President George W. Bush’s chief political strategist, advises the organizations and helps raise money.

The two groups now plan to raise $65 million, spokesman Jonathan Collegio said today.

“Clearly, Karl is trying to come back two years from now and influence the direction of the Republican Party, anticipating that the Republicans will be able to win control of Congress and defeat President Obama by 2012,” said former Texas Republican chairman Tom Pauken, who opposed Rove in the 1990s.

Republican-leaning groups are outspending Democratic organizations, helping erase the financial advantage of Democratic Party committees and their 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.

$133 Million

Candidates did most of the spending with a total of $133 million, according to the project, which used data from Kantar Media’s Campaign Media Analysis Group. While Democratic candidates outspent their Republican rivals, Republican-leaning outside groups topped their Democratic counterparts by almost 9 to 1, the report said.

The Crossroads groups today announced plans to spend $10 million in House races, many of which have yet to see significant outside money, Collegio said.

He said the money will go to support two Republican incumbents, Dan Lungren in California and Charles Djou in Hawaii; and to defeat Democratic Representatives Scott Murphy, Maurice Hinchey and Dan Maffei in New York; Ron Klein in Florida; Joe Donnelly in Indiana, and Zack Space in Ohio.

President Barack Obama and other Democrats have criticized the outside organizations, most of which don’t disclose their donors. Senate Republicans blocked legislation that would require groups running political ads to reveal who is paying for them.

Not a Level Field

“It’s not a level playing field,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told a group of reporters on Oct. 1. Republican groups “can get corporate money, and they can do it in an undisclosed way in an unlimited fashion,” she said.

Much of the disclosed money given to American Crossroads has come from Rove’s Texas base. State businessman Trevor Rees- Jones gave $2 million, and two companies led by Harold Simmons, chairman of Dallas-based Titanium Metals Corp., gave $1 million each. The two companies are Dixie Rice Agricultural Corp. and Southwest Louisiana Land LLC.

“The people who are wealthy and give big contributions, you can generally assume that they’re being solicited,” said Bill Miller, a political consultant in Austin who used to work for another major Republican donor in Texas, Bob Perry. “It’s a pretty rarefied club.”

Rees-Jones didn’t return a call seeking comment.

Perry’s name wasn’t among those reported as donors to American Crossroads. Perry’s spokesman, Anthony Holm, declined to comment on any donations he may have made to groups that don’t disclose.

To contact the reporters on this story: Jonathan D. Salant in Washington at jsalant@bloomberg.net; Kristin Jensen in Washington at kjensen@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at msilva34@bloomberg.net.

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