Andy Kroll

Andy Kroll

Senior Reporter

Andy Kroll is Mother Jones' Dark Money reporter. He is based in the DC bureau. His work has also appeared at the Wall Street Journal, the Detroit News, the Guardian, the American Prospect, and TomDispatch.com, where he's an associate editor. Email him at akroll (at) motherjones (dot) com. He tweets at @AndrewKroll.

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Warren Buffett Will Host Obama Campaign Fundraiser in Omaha

| Mon Apr. 23, 2012 3:38 PM EDT

Warren Buffett and President Obama.: Flickr/White HouseWarren Buffett and President Obama.: Flickr/White House

Warren Buffett, the billionaire investor and philanthropist who lent his name to President Barack Obama's proposal to raise the tax rate on the wealthy, will host a fundraiser for the president on Tuesday at the Omaha Hilton. First Lady Michelle Obama is scheduled to attend, as is Susie Buffett, Warren's daughter and a prominent philanthropist.

A Obama campaign official told Mother Jones that approximately 200 people are slated to attend the event. Despite Buffett's standing as one of the world's richest persons, the event is not for only the top 1-percenters. Tickets start at $250 a person. The money raised will go to the Obama Victory Fund, the president's main re-election war chest.

This isn't the first time Warren Buffett is participating in Obama's 2012 fundraising cause. Last September, the "Oracle of Omaha" headlined an Obama fundraiser at the Four Seasons restaurant in midtown Manhattan. To be a "host" for that event—billed as an "economic forum" with Buffett and Austan Goolsbee, the former chair of Obama's Council of Economic Advisers—a donor had to part with $38,500. To get in as a non-host, contributors had to pony up at least $10,000 a head. The most generous donors enjoyed a "VIP reception" with Buffett himself.

Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and other Democratic allies have recently made good use of the Buffett name on the re-election fundraising circuit, touting the Buffett Rule as Obama's latest effort to take on the congressional Republicans. At a February 23 fundraiser, where 100 people attended at a cost of $15,000 per person, the president said, "When it comes to paying for our government and making sure the investments are there so that future generations can succeed, everybody's got to do their part. That's why I put forward the Buffett Rule."

Obama has pushed the Buffett Rule—which was blocked by Senate Republicans this month—as a way to raise revenues for government to help tame the deficit and to promote tax fairness. Now the Obama campaign is using Buffett to raise some revenue of its own.

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Progressives: Yank ALEC's Nonprofit Status!

| Mon Apr. 23, 2012 12:50 PM EDT

After pressuring dues-paying corporations to ditch the American Legislative Exchange Council, the good-government group Common Cause has launched a new attack on the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) by challenging its status as a tax-exempt nonprofit.

Late last week, lawyers representing Common Cause filed a lawsuit under the Tax Whistleblower Act with the Internal Revenue Service accusing ALEC of violating its status as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit by "massive[ly] underreporting" its lobbying activities. The suit alleges that ALEC exists primarily to give corporate members the ability to "lobby state legislators and to deduct the costs of such efforts as charitable contributions." Non-profits like ALEC can't make lobbying a majority of their activities. (For a primer on ALEC, check out this 2002 Mother Jones story, "Ghostwriting the Law.")

Obama Whomps Romney in 2012's Campaign Cash Grab (So Far)

| Mon Apr. 23, 2012 6:00 AM EDT

Mitt Romney has at last vanquished his zombie opponents and locked up the Republican presidential nomination. Polls show Romney eating away at President Obama's lead in a head-to-head matchup, now at 3.3 percentage points, according to RealClearPolitics' polling average. When it comes to the campaign cash fight, however, Obama is trouncing Romney, as new fundraising numbers from the first months of 2012 make clear.

Here's the most eye-popping stat: By the end of March, Obama's reelection effort had 10 times more money in the bank than Romney's campaign, $104.1 million to $10.1 million. Looking at the entire 2012 campaign, Obama's haul is now at $196.6 million, while Romney's is at $88.7 million. Below, we've visualized the January-to-March fundraising totals for the Obama and Romney campaigns, the Democratic and Republican National Committees, and a handful of key super-PACs. One takeaway: Democrats may be dominating the traditional campaign and party cash grab, but GOPers, led by Karl Rove, are dominating the outside-money battle.

One Donor Ponied Up 35 Percent of Crossroads GPS's 2011 Haul

| Thu Apr. 19, 2012 6:54 AM EDT
Karl Rove.

Talk about a mega-donor. Of the $28.4 million in donations banked in 2011 by Republican outside money group Crossroads GPS, a whopping $10 million of it came from just one donor. That's 35 percent. From one person, or one corporation.

Crossroads GPS, which does not disclose its donors, is the brainchild of GOP political mastermind Karl Rove. Founded in 2010, the group is technically a tax-exempt non-profit, known as a 501(c)(4), that can spend money on political advocacy so long as politicking isn't the majority of what it does. To comply with federal tax law, Crossroads must focus most of its work on issues, not candidates; otherwise, the group would have to file as a political action committee and reveal its funders. Crossroads' critics say the group does far too much political advocacy, and that the IRS should not grant the group permanent (c)(4) status. "The continued refusal by the IRS to reign in scofflaws abusing a privileged tax status has only encouraged even more blatant disregard for the law by these groups and their anonymous funders," Gerald Hebert, executive director of the Campaign Legal Center, said in a statement Tuesday.

Crossroads has repeatedly insisted its activities are perfectly legal, and the IRS has not given any clear indication that it is investigating the group.

Here's more on Crossroads' money from Bloomberg:

Crossroads said it took in $77 million from June 1, 2010, through Dec. 31, 2011. It also received a single contribution of $10.1 million before June 1, 2011, as well as donations of $5 million, $4.5 million and $4 million.

The group shared its largesse with other Republican-leaning nonprofits. Crossroads contributed $500,000 to the American Action Network, headed by former Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman, which spent more than $19 million on ads to elect Republicans in 2010; and $50,000 to the 60 Plus Association, which supports privatizing Social Security and spent more than $7 million on ads on behalf of Republican congressional candidates in 2010.

In addition, Crossroads gave $3.7 million to the National Federation of Independent Business, which is suing to overturn President Barack Obama’s health-care law that expands coverage to millions of uninsured Americans. NFIB reported spending more than $1 million on ads to help elect Republicans in 2010, as well as another $1.5 million that it kept hidden and said was exempt from requirements that it disclose campaign spending.

 

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