GOP groups linked to Rove raise $14.5 million in August

Holly Bailey

Two affiliated conservative groups with ties to former Bush advisers Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie raised a combined $14.5 million in August to help boost GOP candidates ahead of November's midterms, with most of that money coming from an undisclosed list of donors.

American Crossroads, a so-called 527 political committee, raised just over $2.6 million in August, according to a report filed Monday with the Federal Election Commission. The bulk of that money came from two $1 million donations: one from Dallas energy executive Trevor Rees-Jones; the other from Robert Rowling, head of Dallas-based TRT Holdings, the parent company of Gold's Gym and Omni Hotels. Both are repeat donors: Rees-Jones previously gave $1 million to the group in April, while TRT Holdings donated $1 million in June.

The group also received a $400,000 check from the American Financial Group, a company linked to major GOP donor Carl Lindner; and a $20,000 check from Sam Fox, a major Bush fundraiser who also helped to fund the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, a 527 group that famously attacked John Kerry's military record in 2004.

The group ended the month with just over $7 million in the bank.

A sister organization, Crossroads GPS, raised about $12 million in August, according to the group's organizers. The GPS operation, which is registered as a 501-c4 nonprofit political group, is not required by law to disclose either its donors or its expenditures, and officials with the group have declined to make that information available.

Both groups are a part of larger network of conservative advocacy groups using the recently loosened system of campaign finance oversight to function as a sort of shadow GOP. The network mimics similar campaign spending by unions and other groups working to elect Democrats, but the groups are also seeking to pick up the slack left by Republican National Committee, which has struggled to raise funds this year under embattled Chairman Michael Steele.

The Crossroads groups have set a goal of raising and spending more than $50 million by Election Day. So far, they've raised about $32 million and spent most of that targeting Senate races around the country. The group just announced another $2 million ad buy to boost GOP Senate candidates in Nevada, Missouri, Colorado and New Hampshire, and in coming weeks, Crossroads will begin targeting House races, a strategy first reported by The Upshot in August.

American Crossroads has spent nearly $1 million to unseat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in Nevada. The group's latest ad uses Nevada's record 14.9 percent unemployment rate to slam Reid's job performance, using his own words against him. "I think it is my job to create jobs, and I've done my best," Reid says in the spot.

You can watch the ad here:

(Photo of Rove holding Gillespie's arm: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)