Political leanings: GOP/Conservative
Spending target: $52 million
Ed Gillespie, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, and Karl Rove, who served as senior adviser to President George W. Bush, were instrumental in helping to launch American Crossroads in 2010. Although neither serve in any official capacity, Gillespie and Rove “encouraged the formation” of American Crossroads and serve as “informal advisers” and fundraisers, says the group’s spokesman, Jonathan Collegio.
The day-to-day operations are run by Chairman Mike Duncan, a former RNC chairman, and President and Chief Executive Officer Steven J. Law, a former deputy secretary of labor in the administration of George W. Bush. Law also served as general counsel to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The biographies of Duncan, Law and other top staffers can be found here.
Organized as a 527 committee under the IRS tax code, American Crossroads can collect unlimited contributions, including from corporations. Bradley Wayne Hughes, founder and chairman of Public Storage, and Trevor Rees-Jones, founder of Chief Oil and Gas, are among the group’s biggest donors. Both men have contributed more than $1 million, according to IRS records here and here. Public Storage is the largest self-storage company in the nation and one of the top contributors to the RNC, giving more than $500,000 in 2002. Chief Oil and Gas is a privately held gas company based in Dallas.
Others that have contributed $1 million or more include TRT Holdings Inc., of Irving, Texas, and Southwest Louisiana Land, LLC. Harold Simmons is board chairman of Southwest Louisiana Land. Simmons was a major donor to two controversial groups: Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, which accused Democrat John Kerry of lying about his record in Vietnam during the 2004 presidential campaign, and American Issues Project, which ran attack ads tying Democrat Barack Obama to former 1960s radical William Ayers during the 2008 campaign. Robert Rowling owns TRT Holdings, a holding company that includes Omni Hotels and Gold’s Gym. Rowling was a Bush Pioneer (a designation given to George W. Bush fundraisers who raised at least $100,000). In a 2008 profile, the Dallas Morning News described Rowling as “the billionaire Dallas doesn’t know” because of his relatively low profile.
In July, the group filed a statement of organization with the Federal Election Commission and is now filing reports with the FEC, instead of the IRS, Collegio says. The FEC reports provide information on contributors, as did the IRS reports.
American Crossroads and its affiliate — Crossroads GPS, a spinoff created in June — reportedly plan to raise $52 million by November. Crossroads GPS was formed as a 501(c)(4), a nonprofit that does not have to disclose its donors.