Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has complained to the Federal Communications Commission about Crossroads GPS (a spinoff of Super PAC American Crossroads), the Karl Rove-headed "social welfare" group, saying it ran political ads without reporting that to the FEC.
Crossroads GPS says there is nothing to the complaint.
Crossroads GPS spent several million dollars last month on broadcast and cable TV ads targeting Senate Democratic candidates Bob Kerrey (Neb.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.) and Tim Kaine (Va.), says CREW, saying that the only reasonable interpretation of the ads was for the defeat of the candidates, calling the electoral portion of the ads "unmistakable, unambiguous and suggestive of only one meaning."
The ads talked about the candidates' support for various policies and urged viewers to contact them about those issues. But none of the candidates currently hold office, and there was no contact info for the candidates on the ads, says CREW.
According to CREW, the group's issue ads, which do not need to be reported, are in reality "clearly political" because they "encourage actions to defeat a candidate," and so should have been reported to the FEC, which it was not, says CREW, and should have carried a "responsible for the content of this ad" disclaimer, which the group says it did not.
To remain a tax-exempt group, Crossroads GPS's primary mission (the GPS stands for Grassroots Policy Strategies) has to be nonpolitical activity, so the difference between an issue and electioneering ad is important, CREW points out. "Because the Internal Revenue Service considers independent expenditures political activity, Crossroads GPS needs as many of its ads as possible to be treated as non-political issue ads."
"This is a baseless complaint from a group run by partisans, which serves partisan causes under the dubious guise of charity," said Crossroads GPS spokesman Jonathan Collegio.