NRA And GOP Candidate Involved In Campaign Coordination ‘Scheme,’ Watchdog Groups Allege
Missouri Republican Senate candidate Josh Hawley and the National Rifle Association appear to be in cahoots with one another, apparently working together in a scheme to thwart Federal Election Commission regulations that disallow coordination between candidates and third party groups, a new complaint alleges.
The complaint was filed jointly by the Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan campaign watchdog group, and Giffords, a gun-violence prevention organization. Much of the research that uncovered the scheme was also uncovered by The Trace as well as Mother Jones magazine, according to reporting from the latter.
The complaint is the third made in four months that accuses the pro-gun group of trying to circumvent laws that are meant to prevent groups from coordinating with candidates to win elections.
According to the complaint, the NRA’s main advertising consultant company, Starboard Strategic, may be working as a front for another consulting company, OnMessage Inc., which has been working with Hawley during the election.
Many pieces of evidence suggest as much, including the fact that the two organizations are run and managed by the same individuals. The companies share an office with one another, and as the complaint states, the two are “functionally indistinguishable” from one another.
A new complaint filed with the FEC accuses the NRA and GOP Senate candidate Josh Hawley of engaging in "an elaborate scheme designed to evade detection" of campaign finance violations. https://t.co/rCpgVyWWLs #gunviolence
— Rebel Liberal 🇺🇸 (@RebelLiberal) October 23, 2018
Also at issue is the fact that the two organizations, representing two separate clients (the NRA and the Hawley campaign) had “the same official placed advertisements on behalf of the NRA [Political Victory Fund] and Josh Hawley for Senate at the same station on the same day,” the complaint went onto say.
According to reporting from McClatchy, the two consulting agencies said that there are “firewalls” set up in place to distinguish the work between Starboard and OnMessage Inc. Such firewalls are required by FEC rules to ensure steps are taking to prevent different groups from coordinating with one another when they’re this close.
Brendan Fischer, director of the federal reform program of Campaign Legal Center, dismissed those assurances, again pointing out the fact that the same individual submitted commercial requests for two separate ad campaigns, the NRA’s and Hawley’s, on the same day.
“It’s impossible that an individual employee can create a firewall in his brain,” Fischer said.
The complaint won’t likely be resolved before the November 6 midterm elections, as such complaints to the FEC can take several years to finalize.