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Are Campaign Finance Complaints Against Crossroads GPS Partisan?

Piling on to the GOP pushback against requests for the IRS to investigate nonprofit groups like Crossroads GPS, Karl Rove spoke on the Fox News Channel’s Your World with Neil Cavuto:

KARL ROVE, FMR. BUSH DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF: Crossroads GPS is a 501(c)(4) with lots of lawyers telling its leadership what they can do and what they can’t do. I’m a supporter of it. I’m helping raise money for it. But what gets me is, I didn’t see (INAUDIBLE), like 501(c)(4) groups like Crossroads GPS spent nearly $400 million to $500 million on behalf of Democratic ticket and the Democratic candidates in 2004. And we never heard one whisper from this lobbyist for liberal causes Mr. Werthimmer (ph).

But Democracy 21′s Fred Wertheimer, who was also called a “liberal lobbyist” by Crossroads GPS spokesman Jonathan Collegio, says the allegation that Democracy 21′s IRS complaint is partisan simply isn’t true. In a press release today, Wertheimer notes that his group, along with the Campaign Legal Center, did a lot more than whisper during the 2004 elections. Instead, they chose to file two complaints with the FEC against two of the biggest spending pro-Democratic groups – Americans Coming Together (ACT) and The Media Fund — for ignoring key campaign finance laws:

Rove must have missed the fact that our successful FEC complaint against ACT resulted in an FEC finding that ACT had illegally spent more than $100 million to support the Democratic presidential nominee in the 2004 presidential election, Senator John Kerry. He also must have missed the fact that our complaint resulted in a $775,000 civil penalty paid by ACT, the third largest penalty in the Commission’s history at the time, according to the FEC.

Rove also must have missed the fact that our successful FEC complaint against The Media Fund resulted in an FEC finding that The Media Fund had illegally spent more than $50 million to support the Democratic presidential nominee in the 2004 presidential election, and in a $580,000 civil penalty paid by The Media Fund.

Campaign finance watchdogs like Democracy 21 and the Campaign Legal Center are taking aim this cycle at conservative groups — like Crossroads GPS and Americans for Jobs Security — because they represent the most prominent examples of the novel ways nonprofits are seeking to skirt campaign finance and disclosure laws. After years in which pro-Democratic groups were in front on the curve on such tactics, conservative groups truly have taken the lead. The simple fact is that campaign finance reform has become a partisan issue this year because Republicans, particularly those following Sen. Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) lead in the Senate, have made it one.

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