(Jim Clark) – The Washoe County Republican Central Committee Executive Board held its monthly meeting in Reno last week. The group is fortunate that its prior chair, Heidi Smith, was elected to the Republican National Committee and is privy to all the hot news coming out of the party’s national headquarters.
Smith confirmed what I wrote in an earlier column about Sharron Angle to the effect that Carl Rove, former advisor to President George W. Bush, has established an independent expenditure committee called American Crossroads. Such groups, organized under Section 527 of the Internal Revenue Code, are prohibited from coordinating with any candidate or political party but they can pursue their own agendas. American Crossroads has already raised over $8.5 million, according to filings with the Internal Revenue Service, and is on target to raise over $50 million for use in a fall campaign involving 11 US Senate races, including the Reid-Angle race. They have already run 2 ads running in Nevada.
American Crossroads is not the only such organization. The Republican State Leadership Committee was also founded by Rove and former Republican national Committee Chair Ed Gillespie. This group plans to spend at least $40 million to influence state elections ahead of the mandatory reapportionment of political districts required after every census.
In addition the two former GOP leaders have founded a spinoff group called Crossroads GPS which is organized under Section 501-c-4 of the Internal Revenue Code. Such groups can accept anonymous donations and are exempt from reporting them. The scope of activity of such groups is more restrictive than 527 groups in that they cannot run ads but they can defray administrative costs of other more aggressive groups as well as build databases for use by allied political organizations.
American Action Network, also organized under Internal Revenue Code, Section 501-c-4, is headed by former Senator Norm Coleman (R – MN) as a conservative think tank to advocate for candidates. Their budget is $25 million and they have already started a political campaign against former Florida Republican Governor Charlie Crist, who quit the GOP to run as an independent for US Senate.
The American Action Forum is an offshoot of the American Action Network and also organized under I.R.C Section 501-c-4. It will formulate policy and help GOP candidates polish their messages. Directors include Coleman and former Governors Jeb Bush (R – FL) and Tom Ridge (R – PA).
Resurgent Republic was founded by Gillespie and several Republican pollsters to improve the GOP message through polling and research.
Among the reasons for the founding of these new groups is a polite nervousness about current GOP National Committee Chair Michael Steele and reports of frivolous expenditures by that group, the desire of some “fat cat” donors for anonymity and, where permitted, federal income tax deductions. But the principal impetus driving this movement is an effort to emulate the success Democrats had with such organizations (Move On dot Com, ACORN) in the 2006 and 2008 elections. Back then, after 6 years of Republican control, voters blamed the party in power for everything they perceived to be wrong in America so the Democrats had the wind at their backs. There is ample evidence of a wholesale shift in public sentiment away from the Obama – Reid – Pelosi triumvirate so for the upcoming election the GOP is following a trail previously blazed by Democrats.
That should make for some interesting politics as we approach the fall campaign season.
(Jim Clark is President of Republican Advocates, a vice chair of the Washoe County GOP and a member of the Nevada GOP Central Committee. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)