-By Peter H. Stone
August 28, 2012- TAMPA, Fla. — A shift of power from the official Republican party apparatus to an informal coalition of megadonors, super PACs and nonprofit advocacy groups is underway here, as a rising shadow party increasingly drives GOP politics.
Mel Sembler, a Florida shopping mall magnate and a key member of the Romney campaign's finance team, is planning to open his home Tuesday for a few hours to the pro-Romney super PAC Restore Our Future to let the group's leaders chat up potential donors on their plans, according to GOP fundraisers who requested anonymity to preserve their relationship with the groups.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday afternoon, top strategists for three powerhouse GOP allies — the Karl Rove-founded Crossroads groups; billionaires Charles and David Koch, who founded Americans for Prosperity; and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce — are planning to huddle at a local hotel to coordinate efforts to spend tens of millions more on television ads and voter turnout, according to sources close to the groups, who were not authorized to speak on their behalf.
While federal election rules bar certain types of spending coordination between the campaign and the shadow groups, both elements mingle freely here.
The Tuesday confab of Crossroads, Chamber and AFP representatives is expected to discuss allocation of resources in the weeks leading up to Election Day, and is the latest in a series of strategy sessions among these pivotal players, who are allowed by law to coordinate with one another. The three groups have been working closely together over the last year, running several multimillion dollar ad drives in swing states such as Florida, Ohio and Virginia.
Two of the biggest financiers of the shadow GOP network, billionaires Sheldon Adelson and David Koch, will be in town, too, and are expected to attend some public events for groups that they've helped to bankroll. Koch will be honored on Thursday at an AFP event; and Adelson is likely to be at one of the events planned by the Republican Jewish Coalition, a pro-Israel group of which he's long been the leading donor, according to RJC members.