Romney campaign manager, GOP operatives forming new oppo research outfit

Alex Pappas Political Reporter
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Former Mitt Romney campaign manager Matt Rhoades and several other prominent Republican operatives are quietly working behind the scenes to develop a massive new organization to improve the GOP’s opposition research efforts on Democrats, The Daily Caller has learned.

The new outfit, which is being referred to as “America Rising,” hopes to fill a void on the right and serve as a hub for various GOP groups to have access to “oppo” on Democrats.

America Rising will be composed of two entities: America Rising Inc., a for-profit company, and America Rising PAC, according to sources. It will be headquartered in Washington D.C.

Those behind the new effort are pioneering a new form in the opposition-research industry. They plan to sell subscriptions to their opposition research to Republican committees, campaigns, Republican consultants and allied outside organizations.

Along with Rhoades, Republican National Committee research director Joe Pounder is expected to leave the RNC to join the organization, as is RNC deputy communications director Tim Miller. Others from the RNC are expected to join the company in the coming weeks as well.

“We plan to launch this enterprise because so many Republican and conservative leaders have discussed the need for an organization dedicated to defining Democrats through research rapid response and digital tools,” Miller said.

As they work to get the outfit off the ground, the people behind “America Rising” are seeking millions in funding from investors.

For those who want access to their research, early estimates for a subscription package were described as likely costing several hundred thousand dollars per quarter.

The pitch being made to potential clients is that Republicans lack such a group whose sole mission is to do opposition research. They also make the argument that researchers at campaign committees are unable to focus on long-term objectives when fighting two-year election cycles, and they can devote resources to those long-term goals.

In the 2014 cycle, they plan to provide opposition research, candidate tracking and rapid response for House, Senate and gubernatorial races. (RELATED ANALYSIS: Next few months are critical for GOP)

The group plans to offer a searchable database of opposition research and files, as well as candidate tracking services. They also want to start researching and tracking potential 2016 candidates.

Multiple Republicans tell TheDC that the project has been in the works for months. During that time, those organizing the effort have been trying to keep the plans under wraps while working to line up funding and staffers. The group hopes to employ more than 100 staffers by 2016.

Others who have been involved in discussions about the formation of the organization include Republican lawyer Ben Ginsberg, who has been consulted about whether these plans are compatible with campaign finance laws.

The formation of this organization comes as the RNC’s Growth and Opportunity Project review called for a new outside group to engage in similar activities going after Democratic candidates. (RELATED: Top Republicans split over RNC autopsy) 

“Well-funded conservative groups should seek to hire activists to track Democrat incumbents and candidates with video cameras constantly recording their every movement, utterance, and action,” the report states.

Added the report: “An allied group dedicated solely to research to establish a private archive and public website that does nothing but post inappropriate Democrat utterances and act as a clearinghouse for information on Democrats would serve as an effective vehicle for affecting the public issue debate.”

A number of organizations dedicated to doing opposition research on Republicans exist on the left. Those include the Center for American Progress, which runs the blog ThinkProgress; and American Bridge, which is affiliated with Media Matters.

During the 2012 campaign, many of these groups devoted substantial resources to raising questions about Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s tax returns and history at venture capital firm Bain Capital. Often, they were successful in getting reporters to write negative stories about Romney and these issues.

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