Super PAC American Crossroads and its sister organization raised more than $51 million last year with more than 60 percent of the total flowing into Crossroads GPS, the nonprofit arm that is not required to report its donors.
American Crossroads, a super PAC that reports to the Federal Election Commission, raked in $18.4 million last year, including a $5 million donation from Texas tycoon Harold Simmons, plus another $2 million from Contran, a company that he controls, according to Crossroads sources.
Crossroads GPS, the nonprofit group that shares leadership and offices with American Crossroads, pulled in $31.6 million last year, a ratio similar to what the two groups accounted for in 2010 when they raised a combined $71 million.
The two Republican groups were launched in 2010 by GOP super consultants Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie.
They are now getting fundraising help from former Mississippi governor and ex-party chairman Haley Barbour. The groups have publicly said that they're shooting to raise at least $240 million to help the GOP win the White House and control both houses of Congress.
Donors and fundraisers who have been solicited by Barbour and other group leaders, say that privately the two Crossroads groups are aiming for $300 million, the most ambitious outside effort underway.
Currently plans call for spending about half the funds to help take the White House, and the rest to win the Senate and keep the House, say fundraisers close to the groups.
The Crossroads groups appear to be the biggest beneficiaries of court rulings in 2010 that permitted corporations, individuals and unions to give unlimited amounts to groups that expressly advocate for or against candidates.
Harold Simmons, a longtime GOP mega-donor, also donated $2 million to American Crossroads in 2010. Simmons gave millions in 2004 to the group Swift Boat Veterans for Truth to help run negative and dubious attacks on Democratic nominee Sen. John Kerry's Vietnam War record.
Other big donors to American Crossroads last year included Crow Holdings, a company run by Dallas real estate developer Harlan Crow, which kicked in $500,000. Alliance Management Holdings, a company run by Joseph Craft III, a Tulsa based coal magnate, donated $425,000 last year to Crossroads.
The two groups spent more than $20 million on ads attacking the Obama administration's economic policies, including its tax and spending plans.
Several of the GPS ads also hit vulnerable Democratic senators in Missouri, Montana and Nebraska, which are expected to be among a dozen or so key states this year that GOP and Democratic groups together will spend tens of millions of dollars on to sway the balance of power in the Senate.