Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS is currently mounting a $100,000 ad campaign in support of comprehensive immigration reform. But while the tax-exempt group’s relatively modest spending on this issue — along with Rove’s personal advocacy for a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrations — is in line with the majority of the nation, its previous spending has strongly undermined the pro-reform cause.
Crossroads GPS and its affiliated American Crossroads super PAC spent more than $23 million on “independent” expenditures in support of eleven Senate Republicans in the 2010 and 2012 campaigns (either with messages support them or attacking their Democratic opponents).
Some of those candidates have been among the most stalwart opponents of the Gang of Eight’s comprehensive immigration reform proposal:
Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE) said in January that she would oppose any bill that includes a path to citizenship, explaining, “You cannot reward people with citizenship who have broken the laws.” Last month, she reiterated that her views have not changed on this.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) announced Sunday that he will oppose the bill.
Sens. Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Ron Johnson (R-WI) both joined Boozman, Fischer, and other opponents of the bill in signing a letter Monday demanding that debate on the bill be significantly extended.
Those five Senators benefited from more than $15 million combined in Crossroads spending.
Crossroads beneficiaries included some Senators who have indicated a willingness to back the bill — among them, Gang of Eight member and sometimes supporter Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL). But even he joined the other 10 beneficiaries to voted for at least one of three “poison pill” amendments designed to effectively kill the bill’s pathway to citizenship.
If the immigration reform bill fails to get the required 60 votes in the Senate — or fails to attract enough Republican support to get it through the GOP-controlled House of Representatives — Crossroads will deserve a good deal of the blame, given the opponents it helped elect. But it is worth noting that if Crossroads had been more successful in 2010 and 2012, the bill’s prospects would be a lot worse still. The two entities spent more than $13 million in support of 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney, plus about $100 million against President Barack Obama. While the Obama administration has mounted a full-scale campaign for the bill, Romney vocally opposed (and still opposes) a path to citizenship and proposed to encourage “self deportation” by making life miserable for immigrants. Under a President Romney, such a reform bill would have been unthinkable.
Additionally, the organizations spent more than $57 million to help 15 unsuccessful 2010 and 2012 Senate nominees in who opposed “amnesty” for undocumented immigrants. These included former Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO), former Sen. George Allen (R-VA), former Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA), former Rep. Connie Mack IV (R-FL), Treasurer of State Richard Mourdock (R-IN), and former Gov. Tommy Thompson (R-WI). Former State Assemblywoman Sharron Angle (R-NV), who benefited from $3.8 million in Crossroads spending for her and against Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D), actually created a campaign website mocking Reid by showcasing a fake Monopoly-like board game called “Harry Reid’s Amnesty Game: Fun For The Whole Illegal Family.” Her campaign also sent mailings to voters, slamming her opponent as “An Illegal Immigrant’s Best Friend.” Rove highlighted his support for Angle on Fox News to prove his Tea Party credibility.
While Crossroads is encouraging support for reform and a path to citizenship, its support for the bill has been anything but unequivocal. Crossroads GPS CEO Stephen Law said the bill needs an “extreme makeover” but it is “important that Congress move forward on it and not just throw up its hands.”