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Conservatives dominate campaign spending by interest groups

By T.W. Farnam | Influence Industry

Conservative groups have taken a decisive lead in spending on independent advertising ahead of the November elections, according to disclosure reports compiled in the Washington Post's campaign spending chart.

Interest groups and political parties reported $13.9 million in expenditures to the Federal Election Commission last week. Of that amount, 85 percent was spent on behalf of Republicans and 15 percent on behalf of Democrats.

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Seven conservative groups have each reported spending more than $1 million in the last three weeks. They include: Americans for Job Security, a Virginia-based business association; the 60 Plus Association, which supports privatizing Social Security and ending the estate tax; the American Future Fund, run by an Iowa farmer and former state representative; and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the nation's largest business lobby.

Two anti-tax groups, the Club for Growth and Americans for Tax Reform, reported $1 million each in spending last week.

No liberal group has spent more than $1 million in the last three weeks. The Service Employees International Union came the closest with $930,000.

The spending is made possible by contributions from donors motivated by opposition to the policies of President Obama, the groups' organizers say.

"A lot of this is the outgrowth of what the business community sees as the most anti-business government and administration in modern times," said Steven DeMaura, president of Americans for Job Security. "The administration has been aggressive about pursuing anti-growth economic policy, and it's not surprising that the business community is trying to push back."

The group American Crossroads, linked to President George W. Bush political advisers Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie, reported this week that it has raised $32 million for the election. The total includes funds for both its political committee and Crossroads GPS, an issue group which also runs advertising in key races.

American Crossroads reported the names of a handful of donors in a disclosure filing on Monday. The donations included $400,000 from American Financial Group, a publicly held Fortune 500 company that brought in $4 billion in revenue last year.

Such a contribution would not have been legal before the Supreme Court's January decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the landmark decision which freed corporate spending on election ads.

American Financial Group is owned in large part by Carl Lindner, a longtime Republican supporter. The company did not return a call seeking comment.

Crossroads counts a handful of other billionaires and the companies they control among its funders. Together, the billionaires and their companies have contributed 95 percent of the $7.5 million that American Crossroads' political committee has reported to the Federal Election Commission so far.

They include: Jerrold Perenchio, the former chairman of Spanish-language channel Univision; B. Wayne Hughes, the founder and chairman of self-storage company Public Storage; Trevor Reese Jones, a Texas oilman; and Bob Rowling, founder of the holding company that controls Gold's Gym and Omni Hotels.

They also include two companies linked to businessman Harold Simmons, a top donor to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth group, which ran ads attacking Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry in 2004.

"Our fundraising has picked up dramatically since Labor Day and we're seeing broad support from both large and small donors across the country," said Jonathan Collegio, a spokesman for Crossroads. "Voters everywhere are getting focused on the election and are enthused by the real possibility of taking back Congress and halting the Obama-Pelosi-Reid agenda."

On the left, the Democratic group Commonsense Ten -- which was meant to be a liberal counterweight to the large number of newly formed GOP groups - filed its first spending report last week, showing only $123,000. The group doesn't appear to have a Web site. A top official did not respond to a request for comment.

Democrats have warned about the interest groups' spending for months, and they have pushed legislation that would have required more disclosure of where the money came from. Obama devoted his weekly radio address to the topic on Saturday, decrying "special interests using front groups with misleading names" and calling for passage of the legislation.

"What's at stake is not just an election," Obama said in his address. "It's our democracy itself."

By T.W. Farnam  | September 20, 2010; 10:24 PM ET
Categories:  2010 Election, 44 The Obama Presidency  
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Comments

"Obama said times are still very hard for people "who are struggling," It seems that Obama continues to struggle with the truth. He told us no more ear marks, every bill on the Internet for five days before he signs it and the list goes on! Now Democrats are complaining that Republicans are not being "transparent"! too too funny they are only follow the lead of our president.

Posted by: Loxinabox | September 21, 2010 2:55 PM | Report abuse

"But will it be enough to offset the billions George Soros spent to buy the 2008 election for BHO?"

Exagerrate much?

I believe the actual numbers were about $23.5 million in 2004 and maybe twice that in 2008.

Posted by: steve-2304 | September 21, 2010 1:14 PM | Report abuse

I thought only Democrats nominated "activist judges"?

Seems the Republican-led Supreme Court may have allowed the most radical change in our election laws in over 100 years.

Yet nary a whimper of 'activism' from the Conservatives......I wonder why??

Posted by: steve-2304 | September 21, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Obama's problem is one of expectations.

It comes as a shock to a lot of voters that it turns out Obama is not a God, or Super Hero, or Muslim, and did not have the ability to swim to the bottom of the ocean and cap the leaking oil well, non does he have any swuper powers he can use to turn the economy around fast enough for them, to turn it on the a dime.

In the age of immediate gratification it does little to apease such people with explinations about how he has re-structured the economy and things are getting better. Everything is turning around - sowly - but surely.

The Republicans are now forcasted to pick up all these "fairy dust" voters - they can have them. This year these morons are not voting for "Hope" - they are going with "Stupid".

If they are disappointed in Obama, just how are they going to feel after electing a bunch of "do-nothing" obstructionst Republicans - and realize that they have empowered a bunch of crazy knuckleheads who don't believe in civil rights, unemployment, or the federal government, and have by their votes for Republicans put at risk all their cherished government services and benifits.

Dr. King had a "Dream", the Republicans and the exstreamists of the right have a "Scheme".

Talk about bad investments! The same people who poured all their money into junk home loans and other quick profit schemes are now sending all their moneys to get Republicans elected - they are in fact investing in "Stupid"!

Posted by: alfa73 | September 21, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Thank heavens. But will it be enough to offset the billions George Soros spent to buy the 2008 election for BHO?

Posted by: IQ168 | September 21, 2010 11:48 AM | Report abuse

The best democracy money can buy! (if you are rich)

Posted by: erik1 | September 21, 2010 10:04 AM | Report abuse

so when can the democrats start using the laundered stimulus money .

Posted by: getsix1 | September 21, 2010 5:32 AM | Report abuse

Trevor Rees-Jones, president of Dallas-based Chief Oil and Gas, contributed $2 million.

Robert Rowling, CEO of the company TRT Holdings, also gave Crossroads his $2 million.

Carl Linder who currently owns a stake in the Cincinatti Reds. American Financial Group gave American Crosswords $400,000.

Jerry Perenchio gave the same group $1 million in July.

Republicans want America to have the best government their money can buy.

Posted by: thebobbob | September 21, 2010 1:19 AM | Report abuse

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