Pro-GOP nonprofits kick in millions

By Ralph Z. Hallow, The Washington Times

Two outside pro-Republican groups say they will boost their total fundraising to $52 million over the next two months, as the political right begins to play serious catch-up on the left in the use of tax-exempt nonparty organizations in election campaigns.

Mike Duncan, chairman of American Crossroads, told The Washington Times that his group and American Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies plan to plow more than $49 million of it into 11 Senate races in anticipation that the Republican Party is within reach of a Senate majority.

And, in an inversion of the usual image of “coattails” descending from the top of the ticket to a party’s candidates for lower offices, he says a number of Senate seats are in play because of the strength of strong House candidates in the respective states.

“People thought it wasnt possible, but Republicans now have a good chance of winning control of the Senate – in part because we have a good chance of taking the House,” he said.

But the infusion of such an unexpectedly large amount of cash will have to be used, in part, to offset comparatively anemic fundraising by the Republican National Committee and other official party groups.

Former RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie and ex-White House political strategist Karl Rove encouraged the founding of American Crossroads, a so-called “527” nonprofit campaign group in March, along with Grassroots Policy Strategies, another kind of nonprofit called a “501(c)4,” both monikers deriving from the section of the federal tax code that governs them.

The two groups are latecomers to the “independent expenditure” game that Democrats mastered right after President Bush signed the McCain-Feingold campaign finance regulations into law in 2002.

In the 2004 elections, the four top-fundraising Democratic 527 groups alone – groups founded by Americans Coming Together, Joint Victory Campaign Committee, Media Fund and the Service Employees International Union – spent more than $256 million to get Democrats elected to federal office in 2004. In contrast, the top four pro-Republican 527 groups, none of which spent more than any of the top four Democratic groups, spent only $108 million in that same election.

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