Swift Boat donor gives $7 million to American Crossroads

Holly Bailey

American Crossroads, a conservative group that has spent millions to boost GOP candidates in the 2010 midterms, raised $15 million in the last six weeks, nearly half of that from a single Republican donor.

According to reports filed Wednesday with the Federal Election Commission, the group raised $7 million alone from Bob Perry, a press-shy Texas home builder perhaps best known as the donor who provided the seed money for Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. The Swift Boat group, one of the first and best-known so-called 527 political committees, spent nearly $20 million on ads attacking John Kerry in the '04 presidential campaign.

Perry, who was a top contributor to George W. Bush's presidential campaigns, has been a go-to donor for Republicans over the years. All told, he and his company, Perry Homes, have contributed more than $20 million to GOP candidates, parties and outside conservative groups since 2002, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. That doesn't include the $7 million to American Crossroads or a recent $3.5 million check to the Republican Governors Association—or political donations that aren't subject to public disclosure.

Perry wasn't the only major contributor to American Crossroads. According to its FEC report, the group also raised $1 million from B. Wayne Hughes, the chairman of  Public Storage, and $3 million from Robert Rowling and his company, TRT Holdings, which owns Gold's Gym. All told, Rowling and his company have now contributed $5 million to American Crossroads since March; Hughes has contributed $2.6 million.

The group also reported a $2 million contribution from Alliance Resource Group, an energy company in Tulsa, Okla.  Perhaps the best-known donor to the group was New York developer and TV star Donald Trump, who contributed $50,000 to American Crossroads on Oct. 6.

Since July, American Crossroads has spent roughly $20 million—with most of that money distributed in the last six weeks. Since Oct. 1, the group has spent nearly $500,000 a day on ads and communications to boost House and Senate GOP candidates, according to independent expenditure filings with the FEC.

Crossroads GPS, its sister group, has spent roughly $12 million since July—including nearly $9 million since Oct. 1, according to FEC filings. (That's an average $450,000 a day.) But that group, which is filed as a 501-c4 political committee, is not required by law to disclose its donors.

The two groups, linked to former Bush strategists Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie, had initially announced plans to raise $50 million on the 2010 elections, but last week upped that goal to $65 million.

(Photo of Bob Perry: Melissa Phillip/Houston Chronicle via AP)