Rove’s Crossroads GPS Spends $1.2 Million Of Secret Money On Dishonest Attacks In Key Senate Races

Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS is using $1.2 million of its secret money to launch attack ads against Democrats in five closely-contested senate races, this week. The tax-exempt 501(c)(4) is running “issue ads” blasting Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Sen. John Tester (D-MT), former Gov. Tim Kaine (D-VA), former Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), and Rep. Shelley Berkeley (D-NV).

Crossroads GPS, which almost exclusively backs Republicans, claims, “these spots [are] intend to alert citizens to the anti-job policies in Washington and push for real economic solutions to create jobs,” but the spots are little more than dishonest attacks against Democratic candidates and President Obama.

The ads attempt to cast the Democratic candidates as stand-ins for Obama, but because Heitkamp and Kaine have never served in Congress, the attacks on these two are particularly disingenuous.

In North Dakota, Crossroads GPS uses the same clip of Heitkamp as the National Republican Senatorial Campaign (NRSC) posted on YouTube last week. Like the NRSC, Crossroads takes out of context an innocent comment by Heitkamp that she expected then-candidate Obama’s 2008 convention speech to be “amazing,” and it attempts to use that as a way of blaming Heitkamp for everything the group dislikes about Obama and the Affordable Care Act.


The clip comes from a 2008 video made by North Dakota attorney and Democratic National Committeeman Chad Nodland. Nodland successful got YouTube to remove the NRSC’s posting of the video, citing his copyright of the footage. In an email, he confirmed to ThinkProgress that he is already preparing a cease-and-desist letter to Crossroads GPS and will alert YouTube and North Dakota television stations to the copyright violation. (Out of respect for Mr. Nodland’s legal right to the video, ThinkProgress will not link to the Crossroads GPS spot).

Meanwhile, the Virginia video attempts to tie Kaine to Obama — by blaming him for the economic failures of former President George W. Bush.

Watch the Virginia video:

It is true, as the ad claims, that Kaine, as governor, proposed spending $1 billion of the Virginia surplus, much of it to address the state’s transportation woes. But if operatives at Crossroads had bothered to read the same stories they cite, they would know it was hardly “reckless spending.” In fact, Kaine’s proposal was blasted in the referenced story by Republican Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates William Howell for not spending enough on transportation. According to the same Washington Times article the ad cites:

House Speaker William J. Howell said Mr. Kaine’s amendments put transportation “on the back burner.” The Stafford County Republican again urged Mr. Kaine to use more of the state’s surplus, take advantage of the state’s bond power and support abuser fees.

Every budget enacted in Kaine’s four-year tenure as Virginia’s governor needed approval from the solidly Republican House, led by Howell, a national boardmember and former national chairman of the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council. So it seems strange that the ad blames Kaine for the $3.7 billion shortfall the state government faced in early 2009.


And it seems even stranger that an organization connected with Rove, nicknamed “Bush’s Brain,” would forget that Virginia and other states faced revenue shortfalls in late 2008 and early 2009 due to the worst economic crisis in 60 years following the financial meltdown of late 2008. Blaming Kaine for “red ink” is like blaming fish in the Gulf of Mexico for being covered in BP’s spilled oil.


YouTube has removed the North Dakota spot, just hours after Crossroads GPS posted it, citing the copyright claim by Nodland.


Attorneys for Crossroads GPS, in a letter to North Dakota television station managers, claim that they may use the footage under the fair use doctrine. According to Nodland, at least one station has temporarily pulled the ad while its legal team reviews the issue.