Washington, D.C. — Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed complaints with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) against Crossroads GPS for violating federal election law by failing to disclose the identities of contributors who — according to Karl Rove — donated $6 million specifically to fund independent expenditures in the Ohio Senate race. Additionally, Crossroads GPS also broke the law by soliciting donations to be spent on the Virginia, Montana, and Nevada Senate races, but failed to disclose the donors.
Read CREW’s complaints to the:
CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan stated, “Karl Rove and Crossroads GPS didn’t just skirt around the edges of the law; this time it appears they jumped headlong into a criminal conspiracy.”
Federal law requires any outside group that makes an independent expenditure to disclose the donors who contributed to pay for such ads. Groups like Crossroads GPS normally evade this law by claiming none of their contributions were earmarked for a specific purpose. At an August 2012 fundraiser, however, Rove said an anonymous donor gave Crossroads GPS $3 million specifically for the Ohio Senate race, and told Rove it was a “matching challenge” dependent on the group raising another $3 million for the race. Crossroads GPS ended up spending $6.36 million on independent expenditures in the Ohio race, but did not disclose any donors in nine reports the group filed with the FEC.
At the same event, Crossroads GPS showed attendees advertisements it had made for five other Senate races, after which former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and Crossroads GPS president Steven Law asked the donors for more money, presumably to pay to run the ads or others like them. Crossroads GPS spent another $17.4 million in these races after the fundraiser, but did not disclose any donors in 31 reports it filed.
Crossroads GPS told the FEC in a 2011 letter it understood the law, and promised to identify all donors who made contributions for independent expenditures in specific races. Because the violations were deliberate, they are subject to criminal as well as civil penalties.
Sloan continued, “Rove and his cadre were free to waste hundreds of millions of billionaires’ money in their ultimately futile quest to see more Republican senators elected. They were not, however, entitled to break the law to do it. There is ample evidence Crossroads GPS, Rove, Barbour, and Law illegally raised money to fund specific ad campaigns but didn’t disclose the donors. The only question now is whether the feckless FEC and the feeble Public Integrity Section are going to do anything about it.”
- Read the response from the FEC (MUR 6696) [11-28-12]
- Learn about CREW's amended FEC complaint [4-24-13]