Following ThinkProgress’s exclusive report detailing how the U.S. Chamber of Commerce actively solicits foreign money and funds its attack ads against Democrats, many are calling for a Justice Department investigation. Similarly, two campaign finance watchdog groups have called on the IRS to investigate a shadowy group set up by Karl Rove and former RNC chair Ed Gillespie, Crossroads GPS, which is connected to the 527 group American Crossroads. Though both groups — the Chamber and American Crossroads — had flown under the radar by taking advantage of legal loopholes that allow them to avoid disclosing their funders, the extent of their shadowy practices has only recently become clear.
Now, a new investigation by ThinkProgress details just how intertwined the two groups are in their quest to advance a conservative political agenda. At every turn, from the operatives running the two organizations to their targeted races to their media firms, American Crossroads and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are bound to one another. Prior to becoming President and CEO of American Crossroads, Steven Law served as chief legal officer and general counsel of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. His duties included personally overseeing the legal side of the Chamber’s multimillion-dollar political program.
Similarly, the man currently in charge of the Chamber’s political activities, Bill Miller, has a history with Law and Rove. In April, the three met along with other GOP consultants, to coordinate how to jointly fight Wall Street reform. The very next day, Miller sent out an e-mail directing all Chamber members to fight reform and Rove appeared on Fox News to peddle his theory that the Wall Street reform bill would result in the government snooping into “everybody’s checking account.”
In addition to the cooperation between top operatives, the two groups have exhibited uncanny coordination in their election targeting. In a number of Senate races, the Chamber and American Crossroads coordinated their advertisements — one group put up ads in a race as the other group pulled its own down — in order to ensure attack ads were always running against the Democratic candidate. Consider the dates of each group’s ads in the following Senate races:
MissouriCrossroads GPS ads: 8/18–9/3Chamber of Commerce ads: 9/3–9/8American Crossroads ads begin: 09/15ColoradoCrossroads GPS ads: 8/18–9/6Chamber of Commerce ads: 9/3–9/15American Crossroads begin: 9/15KentuckyCrossroads GPS ads: 8/23–9/6Chamber of Commerce ads: 9/3–9/15American Crossroads ads begin: 9/22New HampshireChamber of Commerce ads: 8/25–9/7American Crossroads ads begin: 9/21FloridaChamber of Commerce ads: 9/3–9/15American Crossroads ads begin: 09/28
The Chamber-Crossroads Alliance has manifested itself in a few other ways as well. News Corp., the parent company of Fox News where Karl Rove is a paid contributor, recently donated $1 million to the Chamber of Commerce. Just yesterday, Gillespie appeared on MSNBC and declared that he’s “glad” that American Crossroads is out there along with the Chamber of Commerce. And both groups go to great lengths to conceal its donors from the public eye.
Together, the the Chamber-Crossroads Alliance account for $127 million in planned spending this election, nearly one-third of the $400 million total pledged by outside conservative groups. But until Congress passes sensible campaign finance reform, we will never know exactly who — or which country — is funding their political attack ads.
Progressive Media intern Salvatore Colleluori contributed to this post.
The post originally stated that two watchdog groups called on the IRS to investigate American Crossroads rather than Crossroads GPS. The error has since been corrected.