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Seven organizations trying to sway your vote this election


Sun Staff Photos

President Barack Obama, left, and Republican Mitt Romney, right, both are courting Hispanic voters as the 2012 presidential election approaches.

Updated Tuesday, July 24, 2012 | 1:29 p.m.

It’s not just the candidates out there trying to get your vote.

Thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court, a plethora of political organizations will be spending tens of millions of dollars in Nevada in an attempt to sway you.

These groups with non-descript names, usually including the word “American” or “patriot,” aren’t necessarily working to capture your vote for a particular candidate. Often, they’re pushing an ideology espoused by powerful donors, who, in many cases, they keep secret.

Here’s a look at the seven biggest outside organizations working the 2012 election in Nevada, which generally are working either for the benefit of President Barack Obama and Rep. Shelley Berkley, or presumptive Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and Sen. Dean Heller.

    • American Commitment

      Position: Anti-Berkley

      Type: Nonprofit issue advocacy group, a 501(c)(4) under the tax code, which is not required to report all of its donors.

      Major backers: None have been revealed.

      Intent: This group is one of the newest on the scene. As a result, very little is known about it by journalists or even others in the political arena.

      The organization was founded by Phil Kerpen, who used to work for Americans for Prosperity — funded by industrialists David and Charles Koch — and the Club for Growth.

      According to its website, the group is focused on engaging in public policy “fights over the size and intrusiveness of government.”

      So far, it has spent $110,000 in ads against Berkley, according to the Washington Post.

    • American Crossroads/Crossroads GPS

      Position: Anti-Berkley and Anti-Obama

      Type: American Crossroads is a super PAC, which must report its donors. Crossroads GPS is a nonprofit advocacy group that does not.

      Major backers: Crossroads is most famous for its co-founder, Karl Rove, the political strategist for George W. Bush. Biggest donors include Texas-based holding company Contran Corp., Perry Homes and Chartwell Partners, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

      Intent: Both Crossroads organizations have played a major role in 2010 and is positioned to be one of the biggest outside forces in Nevada this year. Active in both the presidential and U.S. Senate race, the two organizations have already spent $5.3 million on Nevada airwaves and have reserved another $6.1 million in time for the fall.

    • American Future Fund

      Position: Anti-Obama

      Type: Nonprofit issue advocacy group, which is not required to report all of its donors.

      Major backers: AFF is one in a web of political nonprofit organizations funded by the Koch brothers network, according to news reports.

      Intent: So far, American Future Fund is focused on ousting Obama and has spent more than $5 million in key battlegrounds states, including Nevada.

    • Americans for Prosperity

      Position: Anti-Obama, Anti-Berkley

      Type: Nonprofit issue advocacy group, which is not required to report all of its donors.

      Major backers: The Koch brothers and their network of conservative, limited government organizations help fund AFP. Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson has also pledged $10 million to the group this year.

      Intent: The Koch brothers have spent decades pushing a libertarian, pro-business philosophy through various political organizations. In 2010, AFP played a key role in helping Republicans take over the House.

      In Nevada, the group will play heavily in both the Senate and presidential races. So far, they’ve spent $700,000 on air, with plans for more.

      But AFP isn’t just on TV. It plans to organize a ground game in Nevada, identifying and turning out voters. Today, the organization is launching an anti-Berkley bus tour of the state.

    • Patriot Majority

      Position: Anti-Heller

      Type: Operates both a super PAC, which must disclose its donors, and a nonprofit issue advocacy group, which is not required to report all of its donors.

      Major backers: Patriot Majority was founded by Craig Varoga, a former staffer to U.S. Sen. Harry Reid. It is heavily funded by labor unions.

      Intent: Founded in 2010 to help Reid keep his seat, the group is now focused on helping him keep the majority in the Senate. So far, it’s spent about $1 million against Heller, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

    • Priorities USA

      Position: Anti-Romney

      Type: Super PAC, which must disclose its donors.

      Major backers: Co-founded by former Obama press secretary Bill Burton and former Bill Clinton aide Paul Begala. Major funders include labor unions and Hollywood millionaires.

      Intent: The pro-Obama super PAC was late to the super PAC game this cycle. Obama initially voiced opposition to Super PACs. But liberal donors soon became nervous about the millions flowing to Republican Super PACs, prompting the formation of Priorities USA. So far, the PAC has been outraised by the pro-Romney super PAC. So far, it’s spent $10 million in key battleground states, including Nevada.

    • Restore Our Future

      Position: Anti-Obama

      Type: Super PAC, which must disclose its donors.

      Major backers: Charles Spies, the Romney campaign’s legal adviser in 2008, launched Restore Our Future in 2010. Major contributors include Adelson, who gave $10 million; Texas millionaire Bob Perry; and hedge fund managers Paul Singer, Julian Robertson and Robert Mercer.

      Intent: Restore Our Future played a major role in the Republican primary, often acting as attack dog so the campaign could keep its hands clean. So far, the PAC has spent $53 million, most of it in the primary. Its general election strategy includes heavy spending in Nevada.

    This story has been edited to correct the number of organizations included on the list.

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