GOP Groups Plan Wave of Spending on 2010 House Races

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WASHINGTON — Eager to keep Democrats on the defensive, Republican-allied groups are planning a $50 million advertising drive in a number of House races in an extraordinary surge of spending in the final days of the midterm election campaign.

The effort by some of the GOP's top strategists comes amid a wave of new fundraising. American Crossroads and Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies, two affiliated groups formed this year with the help of operatives Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie, said Wednesday they raised more than $13.3 million in one week.

The spike in money coincides with a consolidated attack by the White House, the Democratic Party and their liberal allies on Republican-leaning outside groups that have already spent millions of dollars supporting Republican candidates without having to disclose their donors.

Crossroads spokesman Jonathan Collegio said the influx of money means the two groups have raised $56 million this year. They set a new goal of raising $65 million.

The two Crossroads groups, which had focused on close Senate contests, now plans to spend $10 million on at least 15 House races. It also plans to add $5 million to its Senate spending. Collegio said the effort will combine with "like-minded groups" for an overall $50 million spike in House spending. The groups include the American Action Network, run by former Sen. Norm Coleman of Minnesota, and the Commission on Hope, Growth and Opportunity, created by GOP lobbyist and strategist Scott Reed.

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The Wall Street Journal first reported the new spending campaign.

The money is designed to supplement the spending of the National Republican Congressional Committee whose fundraising has lagged behind that of its Democratic counterpart.

The groups' spending also comes as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has supported mostly Republican candidates, increases its spending in the waning days of the campaign. The chamber has already spent more than $20 million on House and Senate races.

The chamber has been singled out by the administration for spending money without disclosing donors. Democrats have accused the organization of using foreign money to finance its political activity, but have offered no proof. It is against the law to use contributions from foreign sources in U.S. politics.

In a defiant letter to the chamber's board of directors, chamber of Commerce President Thomas Donohue denied the claims.

"It's sad to watch the White House stoop to these depths and try to salvage an election," Donohue wrote.

"It won't work," Donohue wrote. "Nor will the Chamber be silenced. In fact, for the next three weeks leading up to Election Day you will see us ramp up efforts to educate voters about the positions of candidates of both parties who are committed to free enterprise and economic growth."

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The first wave of Crossroads spending — about $2 million in eight House seats — is aiming mostly at seats that Democrats hope to salvage to avoid a Republican takeover of the House. Among the targets are Democratic Reps. Dan Maffei and Maurice Hinchey in New York, Zack Space in Ohio and Joe Donnelly in Indiana. In one of its few defensive forays, Crossroads is also going to buy ads to protect Republican incumbent Dan Lungren in California.

Like several other groups spending in the election, Crossroads GPS is organized as a tax-exempt nonprofit group and is not required to divulge its donors. American Crossroads is set up as a political organization and does report its donors in monthly reports to the Federal Election Commission. Most of its money has come from millionaire donors.