Two ‘shadow GOP’ groups plan to spend $120 million on the 2012 campaign

Holly Bailey

A pair of conservative groups with ties to former Bush advisers Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie plans to nearly double what they spent in 2010 to boost Republicans in next year's elections.

American Crossroads and its sister group, Crossroads GPS, plans to raise and spend at least $120 million on the 2012 campaign. That eclipses the $71 million the two groups spent during the last six months of the 2010 campaign, when they first emerged on the fund-raising scene.

The 2012 effort, which was first reported by the Wall Street Journal's Brody Mullins, also includes the launch of a new initiative, the Presidential Action Fund, which will conduct in-depth polling and lead turnout efforts for the eventual GOP White House nominee.

The Fund will be paid for and housed within American Crossroads, a so-called 527 political group that can raise and spent unlimited contributions but is required to disclose its donors. Crossroads GPS, which is registered as a 501-c4 non-profit group, is allowed to accept unlimited contributions without disclosing its contributors but faces stricter limits on how it can spend its money.

The Crossroads groups are the largest of the so-called "shadow GOP" network, which collectively spent more than $100 million--largely in undisclosed donations--to boost conservative candidates in the last campaign. In the aftermath of the 2010 campaign, Democrats have announced their own outside spending efforts—including a group set up last week to help the party keep its majority control of the Senate.

But in press release announcing their 2012 goals, a spokesman for the Crossroads groups likened their efforts to spending by labor unions--which spent far more cash to influence the 2010 campaigns than shadow GOP groups did.

"You can't outspend the unions—but you can outcompete them," Crossroads spokesman Jonathan Collegio said in a statement. "That is what the Crossroads groups plan to do in 2012."

(Photo of Rove: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)