An anonymous donor gave $10 million late last year to run ads attacking President Obama and Democratic policies, escalating the money race that is defining the 2012 presidential campaign. And in the new, free-wheeling environment of independent political giving, the identity of this donor, like many others, is likely to remain a permanent mystery.
The donation went to Crossroads GPS, the conservative nonprofit group founded with the support of political strategist Karl Rove. Another donor gave $10 million in the 2010 midterm elections, according to draft tax returns that provide the first detailed look at its finances.
Crossroads GPS would not identify the donors, who could be individuals, corporations or other interest groups, and under tax and campaign laws, it is not required to disclose them. It is possible that both $10 million donations come from the same source.
The huge contributions, which make the donors among the top political givers in recent history, offer new evidence of the altered world of campaign finance: After the Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, spending by interest groups has risen dramatically. The landmark ruling allowed corporations, unions and nonprofit groups such as Crossroads GPS to spend money directly on electoral politics. Crossroads GPS and its sister group, American Crossroads, hope to spend up to $300 million in the 2012 election cycle,promoting conservative ideas and helping elect Republicans up and down the ballot.