Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Demise of Karl Rove

   Karl Christian Rove. Political strategist and consultant. Bush's Brain. Turd Blossom. Dirty trickster. Push poller. Bugged his own office in 1986 to gain sympathy votes and got caught. Pasty face. Political operative. Fox commentator. Super PACer. Leaked Valerie Plame's covert CIA identity. Traitor. 
   I'm not even going to talk about how unethical it is to have an active political operative, like Karl Rove, as a commentator on a major so-called news network. Nor will I wonder about why a commentator has the juice to send a news anchor off on a errand simply because he's upset.
   No, I'm not even going to discuss it.
   Karl Rove founded American Crossroads, what is known as a 527 organization, a tax-exempt entity named after Section 527 of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code. It's primary purpose is to influence the selection, nomination, election, appointment or defeat of candidates to federal, state or local public office. Political Action Committees are a 527 group. A Super PAC is a political-action committee that is allowed to raise and spend unlimited amounts of money from corporations, unions, individuals and associations, and of course is a 527 group.
   Super Pacs are required by federal election laws to disclose the names of individuals and corporations who contribute money to them. But a disclosure loophole allows Super Pacs to also accept contributions from nonprofit groups classified as 501 or social welfare organizations under the Internal Revenue Service tax code.
   Under that tax code, 501 groups are not required to disclose contributors. That means they can make contributions to Super PACs in the name of the social welfare entity without having to disclose where it got the money. Those 501 nonprofit groups can spend unlimited amounts of money on independent election expenditures to Super PACs under the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling on Citizens United.
   Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies is a 501 nonprofit corporation that works in conjunction with American Crossroads. As a 501 nonprofit, Crossroads GPS's  supposed primary purpose is the advancement of social welfare including public policy advocacy, although it is permitted to engage in political spending as well. Crossroads GPS is required to report what it spends, but it is not required to publicly disclose any donor information.
   So we don't know who contributed money to Crossroads GPS. We do know who contributed to  American Crossroads. For instance Houston homebuilder Bob Perry gave $7.5 million.
   Rove claims to have raised $300 million in total, with both groups. American Crossroads spent about $105 million in independent expenditures, and Crossroads GPS spent $70.8 million, for a total of $175.8 million dollars.
   Now those who contributed to both of these groups didn't do it out of the kindness of the hearts, or engage in the advancement of social welfare, despite what the law says. The primary purpose of American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS in the 2012 election was to do all it could to defeat Barack Obama in the presidential election (American Crossroads also spent money for or against 20 federal candidates in 14 election contests, while Crossroads GPS spent money for or against 27 federal candidates in 24 elections). So those who contributed had a definite agenda. And $175.8 million is a lot of money, even for me.
    American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS were be no means the only 527 and 501 groups involved in the 2012 election. There were many others as well, both for Obama and against.
   Those against the President spent in total approximately $1 billion. That's a lot of money, even for me.
   So what did these folks get for the cash.? Lets take a look.
   Rove's groups spent about $127 million on more than 82,000 television spots. The result: President Obama won his bid for a second term, and 10 of the 12 Senate candidates and four of the nine House candidates the Rove groups supported lost their races.
   The return on investment for American Crossroads donors was 1 percent, according to an analysis by the Sunlight Foundation, a Washington-based group that advocates for open government.
   For donors to Crossroads GPS the success rate was 13 percent, the group said. That's a lower return than for donations to the National Republican Congressional Committee and to the two major Democratic congressional Super Pacs, according to Sunlight.
    $175.8 million dollars. A return of 1 and 13 percent.
   "If the rule in politics is you win or lose by the election results, Karl Rove is a big-time loser in the 2012 presidential and congressional races," said Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21, which advocates for limits to campaign spending.
   Donald Trump posted a message on Twitter saying: "Congrats to @KarlRove on blowing $400 million this cycle. Every race @CrossroadsGPS ran ads in, the Republicans lost. What a waste of money."
   "If Crossroads were a business, and Rove was the CEO, he'd be fired for getting a poor return on his investment," New York Sen. Charles Schumer
   "Right now there is stunned disbelief that Republicans fared so poorly after all the money they invested," said Brent Bozell, president of For America, an Alexandria, Va.-based nonprofit that advocates for Christian values in politics. "If I had 1/100th of Karl Rove's money, I would have been more productive than he was."
   "There will be a lot of questions raised about just how much bang for their buck Republicans got out of super-PACs," Bill Burton, a former Obama aide who left the White House to form Priorities USA Action, said. "Billionaires on the Republican side are probably wondering what difference their contributions made in this election."
   Karl's been kind of hard to reach lately, but he did offer a few reasons why the President was able to win:
   Okay, the Super Pacs, 527s, 501s, or whatever, lost this time around using certain strategies that proved ineffective against a sturdy opposition. There will more than likely be elections in the future, I'm almost positive of it.
   I'm also almost positive there will still be wealthy interests which wish to subvert the American government and the democratic process through the Republican party and it's candidates.
   They will figure out other strategies, other ways to rig the game in their favor. Citizens United will help them if it's still in place. They will try again. This is a battle that will never be won (as far as I can see).
   But for Karl Rove? He'll still be around probably (actually, I'm surprised someone hasn't already, as the good folks at The Stephanie Miller Program have discussed, have him step on a bag of vipers for having used so much of other people's money without much result), on the sidelines. But would you trust him with millions again? I wouldn't.
   Maybe during the next election in 2016, Karl will be just an commentator on Fox so-called News. It won't be as much fun for him, and his hat will be out of the game, but at least he'll be ethical.
   For once.

Thanks to Alison Fitzgerald, of Bloomberg News for source information.

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