Why We May Never Know How Much Money Karl Rove Made Running Crossroads

The Republican strategist's salary from outside groups is impossible to pin down.

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On Thursday, Nov. 8, Whispers published the blog entry below entitled "Why We May Never Know How Much Money Karl Rove Made Running Crossroads."

The blog post's premise is that there is a question as to whether Rove received compensation from the outside spending groups American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS. Upon review, it is clear to U.S. News that there is no credible basis to believe that Karl Rove earned any compensation, either directly or indirectly, from these outside groups.

Rove has publicly stated several times that he receives no direct or indirect compensation from American Crossroads or Crossroads GPS. Moreover, as reported in the original blog entry, relevant federal filings reveal no financial connection (either directly or indirectly) between Rove and American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS. Rove is not listed as an employee earning salary, nor is there anything in the forms to suggest that he received compensation from these entities as a consultant, through his work for Karl Rove & Company, or in any other manner.

The blog post also states that Rove raised more than $1 billion through outside spending groups. In fact, this was the total amount raised by all outside groups during the 2012 election cycle. Rove tells us that the amount he actually raised was less than one third of that amount.

Finally, the blog post misstated the facts regarding Rove's sale of his prior consulting company. Rove sold all of his company's assets, except for the name, in March 1999. There is no basis for suggesting that Rove retained any interest in the company or any successor firm after the sale nor is there any basis for suggesting that Rove's current consulting company, Karl Rove & Company, received compensation in any manner from the Crossroads groups.

U.S. News regrets the errors.

Karl Rove is supposedly one of the biggest losers this election, according to analysis from many political pundits. The Republican strategist, they point out, raised and spent more than $1 billion through outside spending groups on what turned out to be a losing horse.

But that fails to take into consideration the salary Rove may have raked in, namely from his outside spending groups American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS.

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Rove already had extraordinary wealth going into the election. In 2005, when Rove was George W. Bush's chief of staff, his net worth was between $1 and $6 million, according to The Center for Responsive Politics. More recently, it was estimated to be $6.6 million by sites like TheRichest.org.

But it's unclear how much that wealth multiplied due to Rove's mega-raising this election.

On annual reporting forms filed in 2010 and 2011 by Crossroads GPS, Rove's social welfare non-profit, Rove is conspicuously absent from the section on compensation of key employees. This section indicates the group's president, Steven Law, drew about $600,000 in salary last year, an off-year for elections. It does not indicate that Rove is an official employee, or draws a salary, unless his salary is lumped into the category for compensation to non-key employees, which is not broken down by individual.

On the FEC filings for American Crossroads, Rove's super PAC group, payroll expenses are again listed. Crossroads spokesman Jonathan Collegio is listed as having made about $24,000 this year from the group (and likely more from Crossroads GPS, for which he is also the spokesman). But Rove's name isn't on these filings either.

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It's possible Rove could get around listing his salary for both these groups by acting as a consultant. He owns his own consulting firm, Karl Rove & Co., where he reportedly spends most of his office time when not fundraising. While the firm doesn't directly deal with his Crossroads groups, its affiliates do.

Rove sold much of his company's assets in 1999 to a consulting group which eventually was paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to conduct direct mail campaigns for the Crossroads' groups, according to federal election data.

In a public discussion about outside spending groups at the Republican convention, Rove told a group of assembled reporters and politicos that Crossroads "wanted to be transparent," a comment that drew laughter from the room. Rove then clarified: "We want to be transparent to our donors."

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  • Elizabeth Flock is a staff writer for U.S. News & World Report. You can follow her on Twitter or Facebook or reach her at eflock@usnews.com.

    Seth Cline is a reporter for U.S. News and World Report. You can follow him on Twitter or reach him at scline@usnews.com.

    Corrected 11/09/2012: A previous version of this story misstated the year Karl Rove sold his company. It was 1999.