Rossi’s No. 1 in “secret money,” says progressive group

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Dino Rossi was leading in at least one race going into the final weekend of his campaign against Democratic U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, according to Fuse Washington, a progressive advocacy group that released new numbers Thursday from watchdog data bases, including the Sunlight Foundation, that track federal campaign money.

Fuse executive director Aaron Ostrom said Rossi has received the most support from “shadowy political organizations” of any candidate in this election cycle. So-called “independent” groups that refuse to disclose their donors have spent a total of $4,543,027 supporting Rossi’s Senate bid, placing Rossi first among all congressional candidates, he said.

“After another $454,552 ad buy from Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS group on Wednesday, Rossi passed Mark Kirk, the Republican candidate for Senate in Illinois, for the top spot,”Ostrom said in a statement.

“Dino Rossi has become a national poster child for these shadowy groups funded by wealthy donors and anonymous corporations. They want him to win very badly, and you have to ask what agendas they’re hiding,” Ostrom said.

Jennifer Morris, spokeswoman for the Rossi campaign, did not confirm or dispute the numbers. But she cited a comment Rossi made to CNN in an interview in which he accused Murray of voting for campaign spending legislation that “allowed this to happen.”

“It ends up pushing money out so it isn’t transparent into third party groups,” Rossi told CNN. “I’d rather see more of it come to the candidates so they can control their own message but they also have to be accountable for their own message and where their money comes from.”

Groups that refuse to disclose their donors have spent nearly $100 million trying to influence hundreds of races this year, Ostrom said.

“The Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision in January opened the floodgates to unlimited expenditures without public disclosure,” he said. “The expenditures have backed conservative candidates at a ratio of seven to one.”

Fuse listed the following expenditures on behalf of Rossi by independent groups:

American Action Network(Oppose Murray): $1.3 million
Coalition to Protect Seniors Inc.(Oppose Murray) $36,499
Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies(Oppose Murray) $2,547,742
Focus on the Family Action (Support Rossi) $33,786
Committee for Truth in Politics (Oppose Murray) $325,000
National Taxpayers Union (Oppose Murray) $300,000
Total: $4,543,027

Since the report was completed, Ostrom said, the Chamber of Commerce has spent an additional $500,000 on behalf of the Rossi campaign and Crossroads has spent an additional $1.3 million, bringing total spending by independent groups on behalf of Rossi’s campaign to almost $7 million.

Kathie Durbin

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