Campaign watchdogs want IRS to probe Rove's American Crossroads

Democracy 21 and the Campaign Legal Center argue Crossroads GPS, a conservative group spending heavily in this year's campaign races, is violating tax laws meant to limit political activity by nonprofit groups. 

In a letter to the IRS, the groups said Crossroads GPS and its sister group American Crossroads are using their tax-exempt status to improperly keep donor lists private. 

"In our view, Crossroads GPS is a classic example of a 501(c)(4) organization that is impermissibly using its tax status to spend tens of millions of dollars in the 2010 congressional races while hiding the donors funding these expenditures from the American people," Democracy 21 President Fred Wertheimer said. "The IRS cannot sit idly by and ignore what is going on without enormous damaging consequences to the interests of the American people and to the integrity and credibility of the tax laws."

Crossroads GPS and American Crossroads have launched ads in seven key Senate races — in Missouri, Colorado, Nevada, Ohio, Kentucky, California and Pennsylvania. The groups are also on target to raise $52 million by Election Day, The Associated Press reported last month. 

Crossroads GPS was established in part by Rove, President George W. Bush's main political strategist and adviser, and Ed Gillespie, another Bush adviser and former head of the Republican National Committee. 

Jonathan Collegio, a spokesman for American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS, said that both organizations follow the law and attacked the campaign finance groups for being hypocritical. 

"Crossroads GPS carefully follows all laws governing 501(c)(4) organizations," he said. "This is a baseless complaint, filed by a partisan group that files baseless complaints for its living. Liberal groups spent more than $400 million in undisclosed campaign money in 2008 alone, with nary a peep from liberal lobbyist Fred Wertheimer or any of his groups."

The Crossroads groups are among several big-spending outside conservative groups at which Democrats have taken aim during the midterm campaign.

Democrats have tried to make a January decision by the Supreme Court that knocked down limits on corporate and union spending a political issue in this year's campaign. The court's decision has resulted in a number of donations and advertisements from little-known groups. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) criticized outside conservative spending in an e-mail to Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee supporters on Tuesday. 

"Shadowy front groups funded by GOP special interests are pouring millions into these races," she wrote. "We will never stop fighting to ensure the People's House remains in the hands of the people."

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