Pay No Attention to the Superrich Donors Behind the Curtain

Flickr/<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/jded/3517427116/">JD_WMWM</a> (<a href="http://www.creativecommons.org">Creative Commons</a>).

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A small handful of superrich businessmen and corporations are behind Karl Rove’s American Crossroads, the most prominent Republican “Super PAC,” which brought in an eyebrow-raising $15 million from September 1 to mid-October. Of that amount, more than $7 million came from a single contributor, Texas homebuilder Bob Perry—a longtime Republican donor who rose to infamy for backing the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth’s attacks on John Kerry in 2004. Other major donors include Robert Rowling, an oil and hotel billionaire from Texas who threw in $1.5 million, and the Alliance Resource Group, a financial services firm with investments in the coal industry, which gave $2 million. Together with B. Wayne Hughes of a Kentucky-based company called Public Storage, these four donors made up two-thirds of the most recent donations to the group.

The third-quarter haul brings Americans Crossroads’ total fundraising to $23 million. That doesn’t even include the millions of undisclosed donations that are being funneled through the group’s sister organization, American Crossroads GPS, which as a 501(c)4 isn’t required to reveal its donors. And it’s starting to become apparent how this torrent of cash could end up altering the political landscape. Crossroads recently launched a “House surge strategy” to pour cash into competitive districts where Democrats didn’t think they would have to defend themselves. As a result, Dave Weigel reports, typically safe Democrats who’d otherwise give their funds to more endangered members have had to spend their own cash—most notably Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who loaned his own campaign $200,000 after an unexpectedly tough challenge in his home district.

Early in the summer, many observers wrote off Rove’s group for only raising $200 in May, when it had just $1.25 million in the bank. The tea party, in all its raucous, pageview-generating glory held the spotlight, while establishment Republican operatives faded into the background. So no one paid much attention as Rove and his collaborators worked under the radar to court big donors and build up their shadow Republican Party. And all it took was a small handful of megadonors to change the calculus of the election.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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