Two Republican Dark Money Groups Spent $311 Million Last Year

Photograph by Scott Eells/Bloomberg

David Koch, executive vice president of chemical technology for Koch Industries Inc.

Updated at 12:55 pm EST

The two largest Republican-aligned nonprofits, Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategy and Americans for Prosperity, spent $311 million last year as they worked to defeat President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats.

The figures — $189 million for Crossroads and for $122 million for AFP — match what the groups said in interviews last year that they had planned to spend. Because nonprofits not regulated by the Federal Election Commission, Internal Revenue Service tax forms are the only official documentation of their finances. Crossroads and AFP filed their forms on Friday.

Crossroads GPS raised $180 million last year, up from $28 million in 2011, according to its tax forms. It is part of an operation steered by Republican strategist Karl Rove. American Crossroads, a related super-political action committee, spent another $117 million. Like the nonprofit, the super-PAC could accept unlimited sums from individuals, companies and groups. Unlike the nonprofit, the super-PAC had to disclose its donors. Both entities spent heavily on television advertising.

While donors are not named in the tax forms, Crossroads told the IRS it received $5,000 or more from 291 contributors. The largest single donation it listed was $22.5 million from an unnamed individual. Crossroads had another 1,254 donors who gave less than $5,000, spokesman Jonathan Collegio wrote in a memo to reporters. Yet more than 83 percent of the donations were of $1 million or more, Washington-based political money watchdog Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility found.

In addition to spending at least $71 million on TV ads and other direct election communications in the 2012 federal elections, Crossroads GPS distributed $35 million in grants to other organizations, its tax forms show. Americans for Tax Reform, whose president is Grover Norquist, received the largest gift, of $26.4 million.

Crossroads GPS and related entities listed about $637,000 in compensation for its own president, Steven Law, a former executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Neither Crossroads GPS nor American Crossroads reported paying Rove.

Americans for Prosperity was co-founded a decade ago by billionaire industrialists and small-government advocates Charles and David Koch. The group tried to differentiate itself from Republican ventures like Crossroads by focusing on voter turnout, AFP President Tim Phillips said in earlier interviews.

AFP’s outlay last year surpassed what it had spent in all of its previous years combined, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington-based organization that tracks political money.

Americans for Prosperity said it awarded $485,870 in grants to other organizations last year. The largest amount, $100,000, went to the Center to Protect Patient Rights, another Koch-aligned nonprofit.

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