American Crossroads

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American Crossroads is a conservative Super PAC created in 2010 by right-wing political operatives and "advised" by Karl Rove and former RNC chairman Ed Gillespie to support Republican candidates. Thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court's January 2010 Citizens United decision and the related decision in v. FEC, "Super PACs" like American Crossroads can legally advocate for or against political candidates without restrictions on the amount of money they can raise from individuals and corporations.

Established as a 527 with a stated intent of raising $50-65 million in the 2010 midterm elections, in June 2010 it established a spin-off 501(c) group, Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies (Crossroads GPS), which can fundraise anonymously.[1][2][3] This is a reversal on the part of American Crossroads leadership, who originally insisted on "full disclosure in politics" and a commitment to “full accountability” and “transparency.”[4]

American Crossroads established another political nonprofit, One Nation, in 2015. One Nation has spent heavily in Senate races for the 2016 election cycle.[5]

In 2011, American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS announced that they planned on raising $120 million in the 2012 elections. [6] However, by the end of the 2012 election cycle, they had disclosed at least $172 million in ad expenditures, though the total for both groups is likely far higher, as Crossroads GPS is not required to disclose its donors. American Crossroads reported spending $104 million in the 2012 election cycle [7]

American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS coordinate closely with other right-wing groups like American Action Network and the Republican Governors Association. Some have called this network the "shadow Republican National Committee."[8]

Karl Rove is the principle adviser of Crossroads GPS and American Crossroads

2012 Election Spending

American Crossroads spent $104 million on the 2012 Election. $90 million of which was dedicated to the Presidential Election; $84 million towards attacking Barack Obama, and 6 million in support of President Romney.[9]

On May 30th, 2012, Crossroads joined other conservative independent expenditure groups, including the United States Chamber of Commerce, Americans for Prosperity, and the Congressional Leadership Fund in a pledge to spend $1 billion to defeat Barack Obama. American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS were expected to contribute at least $300 million towards meeting that goal. [10]

American Crossroads began major ad buys In the summer of 2012. They reportedly spent over $9 million on "Smoke", an ad buy that attacks Obama for negative campaigning against Mitt Romney [11]. They also made an additional $16 million worth of ad buys in Florida against Obama and Florida Democratic Senator Bill Nelson [12]

Presidential Ad Buy Summary

Senate Ad Buy Summary

Bill Nelson D-Florida

John Tester D-Montana

Joe Donnelly D-Indiana

Tammy Baldwin D-Wisconsin

Tommy Thompson R-Wisconsin

Bob Kerry D-Nebraska

Tim Kaine D-Virginia

  • Behind: May 13th, 2012: $866,000 (estimate, part of $2.6 million buy) [26]


In 2012, American Crossroads was funded primarily through a small network of billionaire donors. Their largest donor was Sheldon Adelson, who was also the largest donor to the Romney-Affiliated SuperPAC Restore Our Future and the Gingrich-Affiliated SuperPAC Winning our Future. Adelson gave American Crossroads $23 million dollars in 2012. Other Billionaire donors to American Crossroads include Harold Simmons, the owner of Contran Corporation, who gave the group $22.5 million, either personally or through his corporation, and Texas homebuilder Bob Perry, who gave American Crossroads $8 million. Together, these three donors alone account for more than half of the funds American Crossroads disbursed in 2012. Other seven-figure donors to American Crossroads include Oklahoma Entrepreneur Joe Craft ($3 million), Gym Owner Robert Rowlings ($3 million), Hedge Fund Manager Robert Mercer ($2 million), Energy Tycoons Jay Bergman and William Clayton ($1 million each) and T. Boone Pickens ($1 million). [13]

In 2010, the majority of American Crossroads' funding was filtered anonymously through the 501(c)(4) Crossroads GPS. Those funds that were provided to the 527 wing of American Crossroads came from a handful of wealthy right-wingers. Four men alone accounted for 54 percent of the group's 2010 receipts. According to the Center for Responsive Politics' Open Secrets website:

B. Wayne Hughes, the chairman of Public Storage, was American Crossroads' first official donor. He gave the group an additional $950,000 in late October 2010 and has contributed a total of $3.5 million. Trevor Rees-Jones, the president and chief executive officer of Dallas-based Chief Oil and Gas, gave American Crossroads $2 million in 2010. Robert Rowling, the chief executive officer of TRT Holdings, gave the group $2.5 million. Notably, his company has also given $2.5 million from its treasury -- including a $1 million infusion of cash in June 2010. And Texas home builder Bob Perry, famous for his financial support of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, which produced ads critical of Democrat John Kerry's Vietnam military service during the 2004 presidential election, also made a series of investments in American Crossroads totaling $7 million between September and December 2010.[14]

The New York Times reports that its September 2010 FEC filings also "included $400,000 from American Financial Group, which was founded by Carl H. Lindner Jr., a major donor to conservative causes. [15]

In its July 2010 IRS reports, the 527 arm disclosed that it received two separate $1 million donations: one from Dixie Rice Agricultural Corp., a firm in which Dallas billionaire Harold Simmons is a major investor, and another from a trust controlled by Jerry Perenchio, a long time donor to conservative groups.[16] According to FactCheck.Org, Simmons was a major donor to two controversial groups: Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, which accused Democrat John Kerry of lying about his record in Vietnam during the 2004 presidential campaign, and American Issues Project, which ran attack ads tying Democrat Barack Obama to former 1960s radical William Ayers during the 2008 campaign.[17] The group’s prior IRS report showed that another company that Simmons owns, Southwest Louisiana Land, gave $1 million.[16]

2010 Midterm Election Spending

American Crossroads aired 17,360 pro-Republican ads in the three-month period between August 1 and October 1 2010, primarily on Senate races.[18] In the final weeks of the election, American Crossroads is part of an alliance of Republican groups planning on spending $50 million on a "House Surge Strategy" to help Republicans in House races. The strategy is carried out in coordination with the American Action Network and the Commission on Hope, Growth and Opportunity; American Crossroads is expected to spend $10 million on the effort.[1]

As of October 2010, American Crossroads has spent money on Senate races in California, Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, Montana, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. They anticipate beginning to influence House races, as well. [19]

American Crossroads has been conspicuously absent in major races in Wisconsin, Washington, and Florida. This is likely due to their coordinated efforts with the American Action Network, another right wing action group with similar purposes, and with whom they share office space (see "Coordination With Other Conservative Groups," below).

According to the Huffington Post, American Crossroads had already raised over $30 million as of April 2010.[2] [20] One of the primary targets was Senate Leader, Harry Reid (D-NV), in an effort to reprise their partisan success in 2004 in targeting Tom Daschle (D-SD), who led Democrats when they controlled the Senate during President George W. Bush's first term as president.

During the 2010 election, most of American Crossroads' funding was filtered anonymously through the 501(c)(4) Crossroads GPS. As of September 20, 2010, American Crossroads reported that it had raised a total of $32 million (and was well on the way to meeting its $50 million dollar goal); however, of that amount, only $9.3 million was donated directly to American Crossroads' 527 wing. [15] Based on this report, it is fair to say that Crossroads GPS is not merely a "wing" of American Crossroads; it is American Crossroads.

Coordination with Other Conservative Groups

American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS are the largest customers of Crossroads Media LLC, a consultancy that purchases ad slots for political ads. Crossroads GPS, American Crossroads, and a related 501(c)(6) "trade organization" called Americans for Job Security moved over $133 million through Crossroads Media LLC in 2012 in order to make ad buys for the 2012 election. Crossroads Media was co-founded by former Americans for Job Security president Michael Dubke, who is also a partner at Black Rock Consulting, which he co-founded with Carl Forti, the current political director of American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS. Crossroads Media also shares an office with Americans for Job Security.[21]

In a September 2010 article, TIME Magazine reports that American Crossroads rents office space to American Action Network, and that the groups are coordinating with right-wing organizations like the Republican Governors Association. According to TIME:

"[Coordination] can be as simple as picking up the phone and calling a friend. Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, the current chairman of the RGA, is an adviser to the AAN. The RGA, in turn, is on pace to spend even more than American Crossroads this year — at least $65 million and perhaps far more — in an effort that will be coordinated with Law’s group. A key RGA fundraiser is Fred Malek, a top GOP moneyman who is also on the board of the AAN. (Gillespie has joined Malek on at least one fundraising trip to New York for their respective outfits.) To make things really easy, Gillespie, Malek, Barbour, Law, Coleman and several other Republican fundraisers gather regularly to coordinate strategy. The attendees, who first convened at Karl Rove’s home, even have a nickname for themselves: the Weaver Terrace group, named for the Washington street on which Rove lives."

Ties to U.S. Chamber of Commerce

American Crossroads and the Chamber are closely tied, and closely coordinated their efforts in the 2010 midterm elections.

In 2008, Chamber President Tom Donahue told the Los Angeles Times that he wanted to get very involved with elections. 'Alarmed at the increasingly populist tone of the 2008 political campaign, the president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is set to issue a fiery promise to spend millions of dollars to defeat candidates deemed to be anti-business. "We plan to build a grass-roots business organization so strong that when it bites you in the butt, you bleed," chamber President Tom Donohue said.' [22]

According to a report from [ U.S. Chamber Watch] :

"The U.S. Chamber first began to coordinate massive Republican resources when its general counsel, Steven Law, met with Ed Gillespie, Republican political strategist and former Counselor to President George W. Bush. According to the Associated Press, Law met with Gillespie in October of 2009, “calculating how to exploit the voter anger they had seen erupt at Democratic town hall meetings that summer.” [23]
It was at this meeting that they conceived of American Crossroads . . . Law left the U.S. Chamber to serve as the group’s CEO.
Law served as a strong tie between American Crossroads and the U.S. Chamber, and they began to work on policy issues together. In April [2010], the U.S. Chamber’s political director Bill Miller met with Law, top George W. Bush advisor Karl Rove, and other GOP consultants, “to coordinate how to jointly fight Wall Street reform. The very next day, Miller sent out an e-mail directing all Chamber members to fight reform and Rove appeared on Fox News to peddle his theory that the Wall Street reform bill would result in the government snooping into ‘everybody’s checking account.’”[24]

According to Think Progress:

“At every turn, from the operatives running the two organizations to their targeted races to their media firms, American Crossroads and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are bound to one another…the two groups have exhibited uncanny coordination in their election targeting. In a number of Senate races, the Chamber and American :Crossroads coordinated their advertisements – one group put up ads in a race as the other group pulled its own down – in :order to ensure attack ads were always running against the Democratic candidate.” [24]


Rove and Gillespie oversaw the creation of American Crossroads, and are now present as "informal advisors." The group is led by President and CEO Stephen Law, former chief lawyer for the Chamber of Commerce, and former chief of staff to Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell. RNC veteran Mike Duncan serves as the board chairman.[25]

Sourcewatch resources

External resources


1401 New York Avenue, NW Suite 1200 Washington, DC 20005

Phone: (202) 559-6428


  1. 1.0 1.1 Oct 13, 2010House is New Front for GOP Groups, Kenneth Vogel, POLITICO.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Nick Wing,"American Crossroads: New Conservative PAC Seeks To Raise $52 Million For 2010 Elections" Huffington Post (April 5, 2010),
  3. Public Citizen, United-20110113.pdf 12 Months After: The Effects of Citizens United on Elections and the Integrity of the Election Process, (Jan. 2011).
  4. Kenneth P. Vogel, Secrecy Flip-Flop Fueled Crossroads?, October 25, 2010, POLITICO.
  5. Alexandra Jaffe, "First on CNN: New Rove-linked group spends $2M to boost GOP incumbents," CNN May 12, 2015.
  6. Associated Press, Money.html?scp=4&sq=wisconsin&st=nyt Rove Groups Plan $120 Million Campaign in 2012 (Mar. 1, 2011)
  7. Opensecrets: Outside spending Report for American Crossroads, Accessed December 13th, 2012
  8. Ben Smith, Shadow RNC seeks $50 million, Politico, April 5, 2010.
  9. American Crossroads Spending List Accessed 11/2/2012
  10. Mike Allen and Jim Vandehe: GOP Groups plan 1 billion blitz Politico. Published May 30th,2012. Accessed June 20th, 2012.
  11. Matea Gold: American Crossroads Comes to Romney's Rescue with New Obama Attack. LA Times. Published July 19th, 2012. Accessed July 20th, 2012.
  12. Centra Florida Political Pulse: [1] orlando sentinel. Posted July 11th, 2012. Accessed July 20th, 2012.
  13. Opensecrets: Organizations Disclosing Donors to American Crossroads, Accessed December 13th, 2012
  14. Michael Beckel, Conservative Juggernaut American Crossroads Finished Election Season With Fund-Raising Flourish, Center for Responsive Politics/Open Secrets (Dec 2, 2010).
  15. 15.0 15.1 Michael Luo, New Glimpse of Donors to a Karl Rove Group, New York Times, September 20, 2010.
  16. 16.0 16.1 Peter H. Stone, [" American Crossroads Spin-off Launches New Ads in Missouri, Nevada], August 20, 2010.
  17. FactCheck.Org, August 9, 2010.
  18. Oct 13, 2010, Report: Rove's GOP slush fund aired 17,360 ads in less than three months, Matt Gertz, Media Matters blog.
  19. Kenneth P Vogel, American Crossroads Now Targets House Races, POLITICO, September 20, 2010.
  20. See also, Peter H. Stone, "Bush's Brains, Rove + Gillespie Raise GOP Bucks," American Journal (March 31, 2010).
  21. William Dooling: Where Did All Those SuperPAC Dollars Go?, PRwatch, December 13th, 2012
  22. Tom Hamburger, "Chamber of Commerce vows to punish anti-business candidates", Los Angeles Times, January 8, 2008.
  23. Big money: Outside groups spending for Republicans, Associated Press, October 26, 2010.
  24. 24.0 24.1 Scott Keyes, Kissing Cousins: How The U.S. Chamber Of Commerce And American Crossroads Hook Up To Elect Republicans Think Progress, October 7, 2010.
  25. Joseph Rago, The Republican Answer to George Soros' Money, Washington Post, September 17, 2010.