Senate Dems Want Funds To Counter GOP Ads; Watchdogs Take Aim At Shadowy Rove Group

The campaign operation for Senate Democrats released a fundraising appeal seeking donations to counter two developing Republican ad buys. Meanwhile, campaign watchdog groups asked the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to investigate one of the rightwing groups funding attacks against Democratic candidates.

The email from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) seeks funds to hit back at top Bush-era White House aide Karl Rove’s American Crossroads group spending another $4.2 million into eight key Senate races, including Nevada, Illinois, and Pennsylvania. The email also cites an Associated Press report indicating national Republicans intend to plow $2 million into a TV buy to try to topple Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.).

Boxer is in a neck-and-neck race against former HP computer executive Carly Fiorina.

Also on Tuesday, two Washington election watchdog groups, Democracy 21 and the Campaign Legal Center, announced that they had filed a complaint with the IRS alleging that Rove’s group “is operating in violation of its tax [exempt] status because it has a primary purpose of participating in political campaigns in support of, or in opposition to, candidates for public office.”

American Crossroads was formed in July.

The watchdogs’ letter notes, “The status of Crossroads GPS as a section 501(c)(4) entity allows its donors to evade the public disclosure requirements that would apply if the organization was registered as a section 527 political organization.”

If, in fact, Crossroads exists in order to conceal its donors from the American people, the IRS has an obligation to take steps to protect the integrity of our tax laws and to make clear that such abuses will not be permitted in future elections, the letter says.

“Absent timely and appropriate action by the IRS, such abuses will become common place in the 2012 presidential and congressional races, at the expense of the credibility of the tax laws and of the right of the American people to know the identity of the donors providing the money to influence their votes,” the letter states.

As in past DSCC emails, the latest says that 15 Senate races essentially are toss-ups, with the GOP needing to win 10 of those in November to recapture a majority in the Senate.

Embattled Democrats face the critical 2010 midterms in fewer than four weeks, in which they must defend congressional majorities in both the House and Senate.

The latest Washington Post-ABC poll indicates some improvement for Democrats, but still with a political landscape that “remains strongly tilted toward Republicans.”

The publisher of the news site On The Hill, Scott Nance has covered Congress and the federal government for more than a decade.

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