August 20, 2010

American Crossroads has Harry Reid and Robin Carnahan in the crosshairs, and they're not afraid to shoot the big guns.

The announced goal of American Crossroads is to raise at least $52 million to help two to three dozen Senate and House candidates in key races in November. This afternoon, the group will begin airing two new television issue ads in Missouri and Nevada. Each ad is slated to run for three weeks and the combined buys total just over $2 million.

The ads, both focusing in part on this year’s big health care overhaul, are designed to defeat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in Nevada and Democratic Senate candidate Robin Carnahan in Missouri. American Crossroads has already spent some $600,000 on ads in Nevada attacking Reid on different issues, one of which was criticized by independent analysts for using information that was outdated and inaccurate.

Attack ads on "issues" always get traction with some voters, and they're aiming at the soft underbelly of health care reform and unemployment to soften support for Reid.

The more concerning aspect of their campaign is a concentrated "get out the vote" effort aimed at conservative independent voters in their state. They will spare no expense, and are able to do it, mostly because of this:

The new fundraising total for American Crossroads includes monies hauled in by two separate units: the group’s original “527” arm, and its more recently launched 501(c)(4) affiliate, known as Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies or Crossroads GPS, Law said. The new totals reflect a dramatic rise from late June, when those units reported having raised a combined total of $9.8 million. Each arm of the group can legally accept unlimited donations from individuals and companies, but a 527 has to file monthly reports on its contributions with the IRS. The 501 (c)(4) provides donors anonymity and does not have to file any federal reports until early 2011.

The 501(c)(4) entity is a non-profit "civic organization", and the delay in reporting contributions means they can disguise the underlying donors and remain anonymous through next year. Even then, if they follow the same route that the Adam Smith Foundation and others have taken, they won't disclose the names of donors anyway, but will only disclose donation amounts.

The July filing for the 527 organization reports two $1 million dollar donations. Harold Simmons, funder and architect of the Swiftboat scheme that undermined John Kerry's bid for President, and Jerry Perenchio, Gray Davis supporter until he spent millions for Arnold Schwarzenegger to unseat him in the notorious California coup.

There are some common threads running through all of the major funding by Republicans for these "attack issue" ads. The largest donors are on the "Forbes 400" list, they're tied heavily and directly into the US Chamber of Commerce, and they're not afraid to spend heavily and play dirty.

Whatever one may think about Harry Reid, Sharron Angle's election to the Senate would be an unmitigated disaster, and in Missouri, Roy Blunt's election would perpetuate Abramoff corruption schemes for at least six more years.

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