Obama campaign pressures Crossroads GPS to disclose donors
June 19th, 2012
09:48 PM ET
3 years ago

Obama campaign pressures Crossroads GPS to disclose donors

(CNN) – President Barack Obama's re-election campaign filed a complaint Tuesday, claiming a conservative group founded by Karl Rove is in violation of election law by not disclosing its donors.

In a letter to the Federal Election Commission, a lawyer for Obama's campaign argued that Crossroads GPS is a political committee–not a charitable organization–and therefore should meet disclosure requirements.

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"There has never been any doubt about its true purpose: to elect candidates of its choice to the Presidency and the Congress. Under the pretense of charitable activities, Crossroads has tried to shield its donors–wealthy individuals, and corporations who may be pursuing special interest agendas that are not in the national interest," wrote Robert Bauer, the attorney, in the letter.

Crossroads GPS is the private arm–a 501(c)(4) organization–aligned with American Crossroads, a so-called super PAC.

While non-profit groups, like Crossroads GPS, report to the IRS and are not required to disclose its contributor list, super PACs, like American Crossroads, report to the FEC and are required to do so.

As a private entity, however, Crossroads GPS has to live by different rules. More than half of its ads can't be explicitly political, meaning it has to walk a fine line by promoting a specific issue rather than focusing solely on a specific candidate.

For example, these ads can eviscerate Obama as long as they attack him on a specific policy. Last summer, the group ran an ad, "Wake Up," featuring a woman feeling concerned about the economy and questioning whether Obama could help the situation improve.

"Our country's got this huge debt. But Obama says raise taxes and keep spending more?" the woman in the ad says. "There's got to be a way to take away President Obama's blank check."

Of late, Crossroads GPS and American Crossroads have particularly focused on Senate races. The two groups announced this month a $4.6 million ad buy with spots targeting Democrats in six states with high-profile Senate races.

The outside spending groups have already spent millions more this cycle and have previously stated they hope to raise a combined $300 million by November.

But Obama's team argues the ads that Crossroads GPS has produced indicate the group operates more like a political committee than a private, charitable organization.

"Complaints about this scheme to achieve anonymity are pending before this agency and before the Internal Revenue Service, but Crossroads seems to believe that it can run out the clock and spend massive sums of money in this election without accounting for a trace of its funding," Bauer wrote.

Responding to the complaint, Crossroads spokesman Jonathan Collegio described it as a "goofy sideshow" and pointed to a group supportive of the president.

"Folks would do well to consider this a goofy sideshow until Obama sends the same letter to Priorities USA - the group modeled after Crossroads but which supports the president. Obama doesn't care about the campaign laws; he only cares about silencing conservative groups that are holding him accountable for his failed record," Collegio said.

Priorities USA, the pro-Obama group, is also a 501(c)(4) non-profit group that is not required to disclose its donors. Similarly, it's connected to a super PAC, Priorities USA Action, to which the Obama campaign has urged donors to contribute.

– CNN's Ashley Killough, Kevin Bohn and Jessica Yellin contributed to this report.


Filed under: 2012 • Crossroads GPS • FEC • President Obama
soundoff (31 Responses)
  1. California

    Anything for a distraction from what's really happening.

    June 19, 2012 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  2. Kris Craig

    Classic Karl Rove defense: "Oh yeah? Well, they do it, too!"

    What Rove's political hack organization is doing is wrong. If Priorities is doing the same thing, then Rove should file a complaint of his own. But he hasn't because, unlike Obama, he doesn't actually want this sort of sleazy pseudo-legal abuse to stop.

    Hopefully, these agencies will act quickly and put a stop to "Crossroads GPS" and its obvious campaign finance and tax fraud schemes. We, the voters, have a right to know who's funding all these ads that are beating us over the head and intruding into our homes every single day.

    June 19, 2012 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  3. seo

    In a speech last week, the Senate's top Republican, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, denounced a Democratic bill in Congress that would require non-profit political groups to reveal their funders. What is he afraid of?

    June 19, 2012 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  4. donnie

    go after all these groups. We need to get rid of all super pacs.

    June 19, 2012 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  5. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    GOP=CROOKS

    June 19, 2012 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  6. crucialdebtcrusher

    "Folks would do well to consider this a goofy sideshow until Obama sends the same letter to Priorities USA..."

    No. That's for YOU to send. Obama is doing his part, enough ad hominem.

    June 19, 2012 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  7. db

    If anyone believes that this election is going to be based on issues must be dreaming. This election is about rich folks pushing their agenda. Democrats are wrong because you cannot run a whole country based on welfare. And, Republicans are dead wrong when they keep promoting cut taxes and trickle down economics. Sadly, the top 0.5 percent have made enough republicans believe that they are working for improving economy and state of country. Bulk majority of Americans donot even think, they go by talking points that are handed to them by politicians and media.

    June 19, 2012 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  8. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    This is so a political organization. How could it be seen as anything else? I'd like to know that one.

    June 19, 2012 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  9. g

    china and saudi-arbia bank rolls karl rove mitt romney

    June 19, 2012 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  10. GonzoinHouston

    There's no question that the charitable-org loophole needs to be closed. Crossroads GPS is merely one of the worst of many. Your average billionaire, union, corporation or foreign government can contribute to these groups anonymously. They in turn send the money to the super PAC. In other places this is called money laundering. Thanks to our SCOTUS, it's now business as usual.

    June 19, 2012 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  11. Larry L

    Crossroads GPS and American Crossroads are nothing more than right-wing, "swift boat" thugs hired by Karl Rove and the fat-cats to tell lies and bring dishonor to American democracy.

    June 19, 2012 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  12. Namejkane fl SEND THE THREE TIME LOSER romney HOME AND MAKE IT FOUR.

    Republican bafoon party trying to rig another election,we all know that but its not going to work this time ,look at Florida and Scott the bafoon gov !!!!

    June 19, 2012 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  13. Ant

    If U.S autority don't stop that kind of behavior they'll pay that in the future coming. whoever can spend money in US election (politic); it is not a good thing n they know that. Look what happenin other country where US, France, Canada, Rusia ... Can spend money to support a candidate

    June 20, 2012 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
  14. James

    what a joke. how about obama pacs release their donors?

    June 20, 2012 12:33 am at 12:33 am |
  15. Thomas

    Karl Rove doesn't care about the rule of law , he is above the law.

    Plutocracy

    June 20, 2012 12:52 am at 12:52 am |
  16. enuff

    What is it with this childish mentality that Romney and Rove have been showing? I mean to say, yeah we started it, but we will only quit if Obama does it first? That is a bully mentality thru and thru. it goes to show they haaven't matured past the mental age of 13. Be grown ups for crying out loud!

    June 20, 2012 12:59 am at 12:59 am |
  17. DixonIV

    I believe all donors to apolitical campaign should be disclosed. I believe it is important for our voters and/or consumers to know who a candidate's supporters are. That will give most an good idea of who will benifit from that candidates election. The after the election we if our news media is on the job we could see the benifits in action as the candidate pays them back.

    June 20, 2012 01:29 am at 1:29 am |
  18. oli

    A 'charitable organization' run by Karl Rove? That one lie alone should tip most people off. Unfortunately there are enough folks out there who believe 'they wouldn't put it on TV if it wasn't true', and most media advertising exec's could care less what's in a political ad as long as a check comes with it. The 'chump hunt' is on for 2012.

    June 20, 2012 02:44 am at 2:44 am |
  19. Roy

    Obama and the democrat congress reduced the deficit by 8.6% in fiscal year 2010 from 1.4 to 1.3 trillion. Source: Congressional Budget Office (search "cbo doc11936" for proof). Republicans won the house in Nov 2010 and forced their tax cuts for billionaires on America..now the deficit is projected to rise from 1.3 to 1.5 trillion in FY 2011. (Source: cbo doc12039)

    Republican policies: Failed ‘trickle down’ policies, reckless deregulations with no oversight, allowing Wall Street to concoct Ponzi schemes, the unnecessary Iraq War, tax breaks for rich/millionaires, subsidies for oil companies, unpaid prescriptions plans, etc. slowest job growth in over 50 years. Bush left Obama with a shattered economy, a trillion dollar DEFICIT, and two unfunded wars. If you smash a window and wait 2 weeks for someone else to clean it up, that period of time doesn't erase the fact that you smashed it to begin with. . . . . .When President Obama took office the country was losing approx 800,000 jobs per month, and the Obama Administration turned the job deficit into a job SURPLUS adding more jobs each month. SEE chart-of-the-day-jobs-lost-in-the-bush-and-obama-administration-2010-2 . . . The country and economy is better since President Obama was elected, as evidenced by the recent 27 straight months of JOB growth, 4.3 million created. He also rescued U.S auto industry (GM now #1 worldwide in sales, profitability), but Romney/GOP wanted to block this rescue. America is moving forward with successfully out of the ditch, and it would be ‘suicide’ to go back into the ditch by voting for Republicans with their ALREADY PROVEN FAILED POLICIES, which Romney supports along with the Ryan Budget, which is more extreme – Bush/Cheney policies on STEROIDS. Further, he pledged his allegiance to Grover Norquist (NOT to U.S. citizens) by signing Norquist’s pledge, and 17 out of 25 of Romney‘s close advisors‘ are from the Bush/Cheney team – Republicans, Democrats, and Independents, would be masochists/insane to take the U.S down the DISASTROUS Bush/Cheney path AGAIN – Voters should vote these Obstructionists Republicans (with their failed policies) out of office.

    June 20, 2012 05:00 am at 5:00 am |
  20. Obama is only chioce

    FOR SALE : United States of America

    June 20, 2012 05:15 am at 5:15 am |
  21. Marie MD

    Great idea. If the bishop supported by rove and norquist want to buy this election (sort of what was done in 2000) we need to know who, if he were to win and the country becomes a rich state, is going to be pulling the strings when the bishop signs any legislation. norquist himself said that they DON'T NEED A LEADER JUST SOMEBODY WHO CAN SIGN HIS NAME!!'
    We have already seen that the flip flopper changes his views and "what he said" from one moment to another and he is now standing back while others do the talking for him then he steps in, maybe, as soon as he sees how the pendulum swings.

    June 20, 2012 06:31 am at 6:31 am |
  22. TomInRochNY

    What's the problem with giving the donor list if you have nothing to hide? Hhhmmm . . .

    June 20, 2012 06:49 am at 6:49 am |
  23. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    It would be nice to know which foreign corporations and foreign governments are bankrolling Mittens campaign.

    June 20, 2012 07:13 am at 7:13 am |
  24. Gurgyl

    ...........what pressure??? Don't people of USA know Adelson, A Billionaer is giving 100 million dollars that SAUDI guys pump that idiot, some SAUDI guys come play in casinos, some to elect GOP thugs, etc..all these things are pretty much common and routine. Just know this truth. I will tell Anti-medicine-you donate to DNC, middle-class-America. Surpass this amount, all say "YES on OBAMA12. Problem solved. No one in the right support idiot KARL ROWE, WILLARD....god bless.

    June 20, 2012 07:33 am at 7:33 am |
  25. Scott

    OBama and group are hypocrites.

    June 20, 2012 07:42 am at 7:42 am |
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