In a bombshell story from Mother Jones this morning, it appears as though the National Rifle Association may have violated federal campaign finance laws by coordinating their advertising efforts with several Republican U.S. Senate candidates in 2018 and 2016.
This news may not come as a surprise to some, after it was alleged this past December that the NRA also coordinated their advertising strategy with the Trump campaign.
Federal election laws make it illegal for independent groups such as the NRA or the NRA’s political action committee to coordinate their advertising spending with any official election campaign.
According to documents obtained by Mother Jones, the NRA looks to have coordinated with the campaigns of GOP Senate candidates Josh Hawley of Missouri and Matt Rosendale of Montana in 2018, as well as Richard Burr of North Carolina in 2016.
A media company called Red Eagle Media purchased ads for the NRA in support of these Senate candidates, while a separate company called American Media & Advocacy Group (AMAG) purchased ads simultaneously for the candidates’ own campaigns. The problem is, however, that Red Eagle Media and AMAG are both part of National Media, and both companies had their ad purchases authorized by the same individual, National Media CFO Jon Ferrell.
“All evidence points to coordination,” Larry Noble, the former general counsel of the FEC told Mother Jones. “It’s hard to understand how you’d have the same person authorizing placements for the NRA and the candidate and it not be coordination.”
FCC records show that Red Eagle Media is simply a moniker that was being used by National Media. In 2016, both Donald Trump’s campaign and the NRA allegedly hired companies affiliated with National Media for their own independent ad buys as well.
Advertising coordination between a campaign and an independent donor are a direct violation of U.S. election laws.
Ann Ravel, a former FEC representative said “There is so much documentary evidence that it wouldn’t even require a lengthy investigation. Some cases are hard to prove, but this, on its face, is so obvious. I would not think that there is any basis for not at least investigating the matter.”
The NRA appears to be at the forefront of several investigations, including the Robert Mueller probe. They have so far been silent on most of these matters.