American Crossroads & Crossroads GPS
UPDATE: In February 2016, the IRS granted Crossroads GPS tax-exempt status.
Karl Rove-founded super PAC American Crossroads and its affiliated dark money nonprofit, Crossroads GPS, together constitute the top outside spending powerhouse in the past two election cycles. After spending nearly $40 million to help drive the Republican wave in the 2010 elections, the groups’ spending more than quadrupled in the 2012 cycle – but with far less efficacy than in the Tea Party-fueled midterms. Led by Steven Law, a Republican operative with close ties to Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Crossroads groups’ primary activity is running television ads targeting Democrats, particularly President Obama and candidates for the Senate.
Top donors to American Crossroads (little information is available about Crossroads GPS’ funding) include the late Harold Simmons and the late Bob Perry, followed by Sheldon and Miriam Adelson and Robert Rowling. A substantial portion of the money Crossroads GPS takes in gets redistributed to other conservative groups, some of which are also active in federal elections. The top beneficiaries of Crossroads GPS grants are Americans for Tax Reform ($30.4 million); National Federation of Independent Business ($5.1 million); Center for Individual Freedom ($4.9 million); National Right to Life ($4.8 million); and Americans for Job Security ($2 million).
Following the 2014 elections, Rove and Law added two additional groups to the Crossroads web with the goal of defending Republican Senate incumbents: One Nation and the Senate Leadership Fund.
The New York Times reported in May 2015 that the Crossroads network was “no longer [the] GOP’s ‘big dog,'” noting that the Koch Brothers’ political network “leapfrogged the Crossroads organizations in size and reach.”
One of the major problems facing Crossroads was its inability to secure an approved IRS tax exemption. Open Secrets reported that this was the likely reason for Crossroad’s acquisition of Alliance for America’s Future, an organization with an approved exemption, which it then turned into One Nation. In February 2016, however, Crossroads finally received its tax-exempt status, which was retroactively applied all the way back to 2010.