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Gay Republican Declares Presidential Run, Crossroads GPS Launches Website and More in Capital Eye Opener: March 24


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Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Fred Karger.jpgGOP CANDIDATE KARGER FILES PAPERS TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT:  Fred Karger, a California gay-rights activist and former political operative, submitted papers Wednesday to the Federal Elections Commission to become an official 2012 Republican presidential contender. In doing so, he is also the first openly gay Republican candidate to run for president. On Tuesday, he met with members of the Republican National Committee including Chairman Reince Priebus and Chief of Staff Jeff Larson to discuss his candidacy, according to Roll Call.

In November 2010, the Center for Responsive Politics reported that Karger aired several television advertisements in Iowa to introduce himself to voters, and earlier that year, he formed an exploratory committee which raised about $53,000. His entry into the race will likely be first of a long list of candidates who will announce their intentions for the White House. Other potential candidates include former governors Tim Pawlenty, Mitt Romney, Jon Huntsman, Sarah Palin and others, such as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour.

Karger's involvement within state and national politics is extensive. He worked for the presidential campaigns of Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, and George H.W. Bush. He also served for years as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of The Dolphin Group, a political consulting firm based in California.

Currently, he is the director and founder of Californians Against Hate, a coalition of gay rights and labor organizations in San Deigo, formed to draw attention to major donors to the Proposition 8 campaign. The proposition stipulates that only marriages between a man and a woman are valid and recognized in the Golden State. Since forming the organization, Karger organized boycotts against companies that have donated to the Proposition 8 campaign, including Bolthouse Farms and A-1 Self Storage.

Karger donated to both Democrats and Republicans in previous election cycles, and a comprehensive list of his political donations is available here.

crossroadsgps_logo.pngCROSSROADS GPS LAUNCHES NEW GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY WEBSITE: Crossroads GPS, a Republican advocacy organization inspired in part by former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove, recently set up wikicountability.org, a website that compiles government documents obtained by citizens, organizations and reporters who have filed Freedom of Information Act requests with the Obama Administration. According to Politico, the website already has files available, which include information such as the cost of an Andy Griffith advertisement promoting President Barack Obama's healthcare reform, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis' meetings with labor union leaders from 2009 to 2010 and details about Consumer Financial Protection Bureau head Elizabeth Warren's discussions with liberal news reporters.

Crossroads GPS is officially a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization that works along with its sister organization, American Crossroads, to advocate for conservative causes and ideals. Under the nonprofit status, Crossroads GPS is required to only disclose the money that it spend in elections and is not required to publicly reveal its donors. And the two groups have a visible presence during the 2010 midterm contests.

According to a report conducted by the Center for Responsive Politics, Crossroads GPS spent more than $17.1 million during the 2010 election cycle. Of that number, the group made more than $15 million worth of independent expenditures against Democrats and about $500,000 on communications advocating for Republican candidates. For the 2012 presidential election, both groups say they plan to raise $120 million to unseat President Barack Obama.

A more detailed report of outside spending groups and spending trends is available here.

Thumbnail image for trump.jpegDONALD TRUMP TO SPEAK AT GOP IOWA FUNDRAISER: Real estate mogul Donald Trump will speak at the Iowa Republican Party Lincoln Day Dinner on June 10 in Des Moines. The Des Monies Register reports that Iowa State GOP Chairman Matt Shrawn approached Trump during the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C., and offered Trump a chance to speak at the Iowa gathering. By attending a high profile event, the billionaire television personality adds speculation to his 2012 plans. Officially, Trump has not declared his intentions to run for president, but he suggested he'll make a decision sometime in June. If he jumps into the race, he promises to campaign vigorously in Iowa and to spend $600 million in the overall presidential contest.

According to Forbes, the business magnate is valued at about $2.6 billion, and his business assets range from high rise apartments in New York City, to the golf clubs in West Palm Beach, to international hotels in Dubai. Trump is also the host and executive producer of the television series, The Apprentice.

The television personality is also politically active and has an extensive history of contributing to politicians. Since the 1990 election cycle, he has given more than $700,000 in campaign contributions to various campaign committees, congressional candidates and political action committees of both parties. A more detailed breakdown of his contributions is available here.

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