Reporter goes inside Karl Rove billionaire fund-raiser for American Crossroads
By Ashley Killough, CNN
(CNN) – Karl Rove, a former adviser to President George W. Bush and now head of the conservative super PAC American Crossroads, had some biting words for Rep. Todd Akin of Missouri, following the Senate candidate’s controversial comments about rape and pregnancy.
“We should sink Todd Akin. If he’s found mysteriously murdered, don’t look for my whereabouts,” Rove said Thursday at a private fundraiser, according to a Businessweek reporter who was not supposed to be there.
The reporter, Sheelah Kolhatkar, said in her article that she was invited to the fund-raiser as the guest of a financier whom she described as a “significant Republican donor.”
“The financier knew that I was a journalist. At no point was I presented with, nor did I agree to, restrictions regarding the information I heard,” Kolhatkar writes in the article. “Upon my arrival at the breakfast, I was not asked if I was a journalist. I gave my name, identified the person who had invited me, was handed a wristband, and ushered into the dining room.”
Her story further details Rove’s pleas for money from those at the event, a crowd of about 70 hedge fund billionaires and investors. It was held on the final morning of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida on Thursday.
Rove, she writes, was raising money for Crossroads, which has spent tens of millions on conservative candidates and causes this cycle. In his remarks, he presented data from focus groups on how best to try to sway supporters of President Barack Obama to the GOP column this fall.
“‘If you say he’s a socialist, they’ll go to defend him. If you call him a ‘far out left-winger,’ they’ll say, ‘no, no, he’s not.’” The proper strategy, Rove declared, was criticizing Obama without really criticizing him-by reminding voters of what the president said that he was going to do and comparing it to what he’s actually done. “If you keep it focused on the facts and adopt a respectful tone, then they’re gonna agree with you,” Kolhatkar writes.
Rove said the group is two-thirds on its way to reaching its $300 million fund-raising goal. According to Kolhatkar, Rove said $200 million was budgeted for the presidential race, $70 million for the Senate, and $32 million for the House.
He also brushed on some of the major Senate races this cycle, including the one Akin is fighting in Missouri. The congressman, who sparked an uproar after saying a woman’s body has biological means of preventing pregnancy in ‘legitimate rape,’ drew heavy scorn from his own party over the comments. But he has refused to withdraw his candidacy and vows to continue campaigning against incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill, a vulnerable Democrat.
American Crossroads spokesman Jonathan Collegio, however, took issue with the reporter’s presence at the closed event and questioned her journalistic standards.
“Bloomberg’s reporter unethically misrepresented herself to gain access to a private meeting, while reporters who followed the SPJ code of ethics were turned away,” Collegio said.
He was referring to the Society of Professional Journalists code of ethics, which includes the line: “Avoid undercover or other surreptitious methods of gathering information except when traditional open methods will not yield information vital to the public. Use of such methods should be explained as part of the story.”