In his bombshell report on Groundswell, a coalition of prominent right-wing activists and journalists that gathers weekly "to concoct talking points" and "coordinate messaging," Mother Jones Washington Bureau Chief David Corn reveals that that group is engaged in a "two front war" against not only progressives, but Fox News political analyst and former Bush aide Karl Rove.
At one point, Corn details, that effort was led by Rove's colleague, Fox News contributor Sandy Rios.
Since the 2012 election, a civil war in the conservative movement has divided Rove and his allies from other right-wing elements who believe Rove is insufficiently ideological. Much of the debate has focused on The Conservative Victory Project, a new group Rove is launching with the help of allies of Crossroads political groups to support Republican officeholders against Tea Party challengers. That effort has drawn harsh criticism from some of Rove's Fox News colleagues.
As Corn explains, that conservative civil war is in part driven by Groundswell, which in March "initiated an effort to crush Rove, who they believed had helped shape a post-election post-mortem by the Republican National Committee that called on the party to temper its message to appeal to a broader swath of voters." Notes for the group's March 20 meeting explain that Rove "must become toxic among the grass roots and among his base," and notes his vast influence in the conservative movement, including that "FOX has given Rove a platform and just renewed his contract," in spite of the fact that "Rove no more represents conservatives then Jessie [sic] Jackson or Al Sharpton represent all Blacks."
Notes for a February 20 Groundswell meeting indicate Rios was in charge of the working group devoted to an "Alternative to Rove." Notes for the group's March 6 meeting describe her as responsible for the "Karl Rove Project." According to Corn, "Weeks later, though, a Groundswell memo noted that the Conservative Action Project -- a coalition of more than 100 right-wing organizations that is chaired by former Attorney General Edwin Meese -- would be 'taking the lead' on the Rove Project." It is unclear whether that means that Rios and Groundswell were no longer directly engaged in an effort to undermine Rove.
Rios has previously repudiated Rove's Conservative Victory Project. During a February 4, 2013, appearance on American Family Radio, Rios said it was "frightening" that Rove is "going after really conservative candidates that they consider to be a little bit too conservative, out of the mainstream." Rios pointed to Rep. Steve King (R-IA) as an example of someone who is being unfairly targeted. She added that Rove "could not have been more wrong" about recent elections.
In May, Rios signed a letter opposing the bipartisan Senate proposal to reform immigration law that became the bill that passed in June. Immigration reform has been a key area of disagreement between Rove and more conservative elements of the party.
Fox News contributors Allen West and John Bolton are also reportedly Groundswell participants.