Rove-linked dark money backs DeMaio

TV costs head for record in big-money battle over 52nd district House seat.

Karl Rove is a founder and adviser to American Crossroads and its nonprofit spin-off group, Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies.
  • Karl Rove is a founder and adviser to American Crossroads and its nonprofit spin-off group, Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies.

The 52nd district battle between freshman Democratic congressman Scott Peters and Republican ex-city councilman Carl Demaio, already one of the nation's costliest House races, has just gotten even pricier with the arrival of Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies, a so-called dark money group masterminded by Karl Rove, former political guru to ex-president George W. Bush.

The nonprofit committee paid $69,475 for 76 30-second spots to be run by NBC affiliate KNSD over seven days beginning August 18, according to an August 14 disclosure report posted online by the Federal Communications Commission.

Crossroads has also made inquiries at KFMB, owned by wealthy DeMaio backer Elisabeth Kimmel of La Jolla, but a list of purchases has not yet been posted.

"Presiding over Washington’s dysfunctional political culture is President Obama, who enjoys picking fights and giving speeches, but seems uninterested in simply building consensus around practical solutions," says a blurb on the Crossroads GPS website.

"We use every available means — from TV ads to constituent letters — to help educate busy people and urge our leaders to take action on this commonsense punch-list for positive change."

Crossroads GPS is incorporated as a 501(c)4 nonprofit organization. Under the Supreme Court's January 2010 Citizens United decision, the group is is allowed to spend freely in candidate races without disclosing its donors.

According to FactCheck.org, run by the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, "analysis of the group’s 2012 tax returns found 50 anonymous contributions of more than $1 million, including one of $22.5 million."

As previously reported here in June, the 52nd district's battle of the super rich also includes liberal New York City denizen James Simons of Manhattan, known as the "Quant King" for making millions on Wall Street.

He's provided the biggest chunk of money to the Democrats' House Majority political action committee. "As the super PAC focused on holding Republicans accountable and helping Democrats win seats in the House, House Majority PAC combines innovative new approaches with time-tested strategies to do battle with Republican outside groups and make a difference," the group says on its website.

House Majority's initial buy of 181 spots on KFMB totaled $155,595.

Last month, Patriot Majority PAC, run by Craig Varoga a former aide to Senate majority leader Harry Reid of Nevada, also weighed in.

The committee paid $27,900 for 58 30-second spots on Scripps-owned KGTV, FCC filings show.

Then there was the Koch-linked Americans for Prosperity PAC, which reportedly paid $145,000 for anti-Peters cable TV ads here in February, according to Politico.

The Republican and Democratic national congressional campaign committees have also joined the fray, leading local political observers to predict that the contest will set new records for special interest spending.

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