With Roy Blunt’s approval numbers underwater by nearly 20 points, his special interest allies are sprinting into Missouri to try to save his campaign.
The Springfield News-Leader reports, “Sen. Roy Blunt’s campaign is getting a big-time boost from an influential Washington advocacy group, which plans to spend nearly $800,000 on a TV and radio ad blitz supporting the Missouri Republican….The group buying the pro-Blunt ads is called One Nation, and it’s part of a network of GOP organizations affiliated with American Crossroads, a super PAC founded with the help of Republican strategist Karl Rove. One Nation’s foray into Missouri — more than a year before the 2016 election — may be a sign that the Show-Me State Senate race is becoming more competitive.”
One Nation is part of Karl Rove’s “constellation of Crossroads organizations” and is specifically focused on saving vulnerable Republican senators in 2016. Already this year, this dark money group spent $2 million propping up Republican senators that back their anti-middle class agenda.
Now, Rove is pouring $800,000 into Missouri to attempt to mask Roy Blunt’s record of putting Washington politics and special interests first. Time and time again in Washington, Blunt has voted against Missouri’s middle class and working families — voting against raising the minimum wage, voting over and over again to end Medicare as we know it and turn it into a voucher program, and more.
While it’s been reported that One Nation is a “new” (c)4 addition to the Crossroads network, Open Secrets found that the group was a renamed version of an entity previously known as the Alliance for America’s Future, a nonprofit affiliated with the Alliance for Freedom.Open Secrets notes that the takeover was “likely… because the group had the one thing that has been elusive to Crossroads since its founding in 2010: An approved application for tax exemption from the IRS.”
With still over a year until election day, Karl Rove and his dark money special interest group is already spending hundreds of thousands to prop up Roy Blunt. Why? Blunt puts billionaires and Washington special interests first, not Missouri.
One Nation is a nonprofit 501(c)4 addition to Karl Rove’s “constellation of Crossroads organizations.” The group “aims to advance well-constructed solutions to our country’s most urgent challenges: its plodding economy, massive debt, job-killing regulations and weakness in an increasingly dangerous world.”
In contrast to Crossroads GPS and American Crossroads, which plan to focus on the presidential race in 2016, One Nation is aimed solely at influencing Senate elections. And it’s wasting no time in getting to work: As of May 2015, One Nation had already purchased $2 million worth of radio, digital and print ads “touting” incumbent Republican senators facing tough reelections in 2016, including Sens. Kelly Ayotte, Mark Kirk, Richard Burr, Rob Portman, and Pat Toomey. The ads praise the senators for supportingtrade-promotion authority and urge congressional action “to protect” Medicare and Medicare Advantage. The spending included $325,000 on ads in New Hampshire in support of Ayotte, and $400,000 in Pennsylvania in support of Toomey. Its ads in Ohio praised Portman for “helping to lead the way” to consensus in Congress.
In October 2015, One Nation launched an ad buy in New Hampshire attempting to defend Sen. Ayotte on women’s health issues. They additionally purchased ads in Missouri defending Sen. Roy Blunt, which were supposedly focused on highlighting Sen. Blunt’s “ability to work across the aisle.”
Sen. Mitch McConnell’s former chief of staff, Steven Law, is the president of One Nation, along with its sister organizations American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS. Law is also executive chairman of the Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC “devoted solely to retaining the Senate majority” that “aims to be the go-to destination for major Republican donors interested in Senate races.” Ian Prior is cited as a spokesman for the group; Prior previously served as communications director for Crossroads / Crossroads GPS and, prior to that, as National Press Secretary & Deputy Communications Director for the National Republican Congressional Committee.
One Nation has not disclosed how much it is planning to spend in the 2016 campaign cycle but Law said that in 2015 alone the organization plans to spend “multiples more of what we are doing with this first wave” of ads. Operating as a “dark money” c4 organization, the group is not required to disclose its donors.
Despite reporting in early 2015 that One Nation was a “new” (c)4 addition to the Crossroads network, Open Secrets found that the group was a renamed version of an entity previously known as the Alliance for America’s Future, a nonprofit affiliated with theAlliance for Freedom. Open Secrets notes that the takeover was “likely… because the group had the one thing that has been elusive to Crossroads since its founding in 2010: An approved application for tax exemption from the IRS.”
According to Open Secrets, there’s precedent going back to at least 1999 for this tactic whereby a group having difficulty with receiving IRS tax exemption – as Crossroads is currently facing – can acquire a group that already has the exemption, and then transfer its operations to the new group.
Open Secrets concludes that One Nation (formerly AAF) could be a valuable pick-up for the Crossroads network because “AAF is no stranger to dark money politics… and it comes with a network of IRS-recognized 501(c)(4)s that can serve either as surrogates, or as pools of money One Nation can use to churn funds around to inflate its social welfare spending… It offers the reconstituted Crossroads the kind of security that is prized by the snarl of nonprofits affiliated with the Koch donor network.”
As a sign of its rising importance, One Nation spent more in the first five months 2015 than it did as AAF in any of the full years of 2012, 2013, or 2014.