Out of a total of 345 contributions between Sept. 1 and Oct. 13, just five donors contributed 88 percent of the funds to American Crossroads, a “super PAC” affiliated with former Bush White House Senior Adviser Karl Rove and former Republican National Committee Chair Ed Gillespie. Crossroads raised $14,778,673 in September and the first two weeks of October, according to Federal Elections Commission reports filed Wednesday. Five donors contributed $13 million of that.
At least some of that money is ending up in Florida, where the group is running ads supporting Marco Rubio’s candidacy for the U.S. Senate and opposing the reelection of Rep. Ron Klein, D-Fort Lauderdale, with the claim that he supports “rationing” health care.
The group’s donations show a remarkable concentration of wealth for an organization that claims to be “grassroots.”
In its initial IRS filing as a 527 organization on March 29, the group described itself as, “an independent, national grassroots political organization whose mission is to speak out in support of conservative issues and candidates across America.”
The largest donor to the 527, contributing 47 percent of the total cash in the latest filing, was a familiar one — Texas homebuilder Bob Perry, who helped fund another 527 groups, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, prior to the 2004 election. That group ran ads attacking the military service of Democratic candidate for president Sen. John Kerry. Perry contributed $5 million in October and $2 million in September. Perry’s net worth has been estimated at $650 million, and he has contributed to dozens of Republican causes since the mid-’80s.
The second-largest individual donor was Robert Rowling, CEO of TRT Holdings, an Irving, Texas, energy company. Personally, he gave $1.5 million to Crossroads in the latest filing, bringing his year-to-date donation total to $2.5 million. TRT Holdings also donated $1.5 million to Crossroads as a corporation. According to Forbes, Rowling is number 64 on the Forbes 400 List of Richest Americans, having a net worth of $4.2 billion.
B. Wayne Hughes, chairman of Publican Storage, the largest self-storage company in the United States, contributed $1 million on Sept. 15, bringing his year-to-date contributions for Crossroads to $2.3 million. He was number 85 on the Forbes List of Richest Americans in 2009, having a net worth of $3.5 billion.
Alliance Resource Partners, a Tulsa-based coal producer with $1.1 billion in revenues and $1.2 billion in assets as of 2009, donated $2 million. A roof in an Alliance-owned mine in Kentucky collapsed on April 28, killing two miners. The mine had been cited for 214 safety violations. The Mine Safety and Health Administration issued a citation to Alliance for the accident on Oct. 8.
American Crossroads has spent more than $16 million this cycle in political advertisements and other communications. An affiliated group to Crossroads — American Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies, a 501 (c)(4) “social welfare” group — does not have to disclose its donors. However, tax law prohibits it from spending roughly more than 50 percent of its funds on election materials. It has spent around $11.5 million dollars thus far in independent expenditures and electioneering communications.
In its mission statement, Crossroads describes itself as, “a new kind of non-profit political organization dedicated to renewing America’s commitment to individual liberty, limited government, free enterprise, and a strong national defense—through informed and effective political action by citizens like you.” However, most of its action is paid for by just a few wealthy donors.
Luke Johnson reports on Florida for The American Independent.