Spokesman for Rove-Backed Group Fuels Controversy With ‘Hater’ Remark

Photograph by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Karl Rove at the Republican National Convention.

Jonathan Collegio, a spokesman for Karl Rove’s new super-political action committee, took to the Washington airwaves today to defend the new group against conservative criticism. He instead set off another battle with those accusing it of intending to wage war against the Tea Party.

The Conservative Victory Project has been founded by Rove and others to raise money to help “electable” Republicans win primary races. Collegio earlier this week said the party lost some Senate races last year and in 2010 because of “undisciplined candidates running bad campaigns.” The new group “seeks to help elect the most conservative candidates in Republican primaries who can win in general elections.”

At the end of his interview on radio station WMAL, Collegio referred to one of the group’s critics, longtime conservative activist Brent Bozell, as a “hater.”

That immediately drew condemnation from 25 conservatives, including political consultant Craig Shirley, Tea Party leader Jenny Beth Martin, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins and Eagle Forum President Phyllis Schlafly. In a letter to Steven Law, president of American Crossroads — the group Rove helped establish that played a major role in financing Republians in the 2012 campaign — they demanded that Collegio lose his job, saying they “cannot and will not abide the unjust, personal broadside” against Bozell. In demanding Collegio be fired, they said “an apology is not acceptable.”

The conservatives also insisted that Rove’s groups “have already been severely marginalized.” American Crossroads and its sister nonprofit, Crossroads GPS, spent more than $175 million in the 2012 election.

The signers concluded: “You obviously mean to have a war with conservatives and the Tea Party.”

Collegio didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

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