The National Rifle Association appears to have illegally coordinated campaign ads with Republican candidates in key Senate races, according to Federal Communication Records (FCC) records obtained by The Trace.
According to the report, the NRA’s ads on behalf of Missouri Senate candidate Josh Hawley and Montana Senate candidate Matt Rosendale in 2018, as well as North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr in 2016, were all authorized by the same media consulting firm that they candidates used for their ads. (Hawley and Burr won their races, but Rosendale lost to Democratic Sen. Jon Tester.) The scheme appears to be in violation of laws barring independent groups from working in concert with political campaigns.
According to the FCC records, at least 10 purchases by both the NRA and three Senate campaigns were made by the same person, National Media CFO Jon Ferell.
The Trace reported that the company used the “assumed or fictitious name” Red Eagle Media to buy ads for the NRA while using the name American Media & Advocacy Group to buy ads for the Senate candidates.
The Trace previously reported in December that President Trump’s 2016 campaign had the same type of scheme with the NRA. In that case, the campaign and the NRA hired different National Media affiliates to approve ads on their behalf. National Media employees using different corporate names placed ads for both Trump and the NRA around the country.
Campaign finance laws prohibit independent groups from sharing election-related information with campaigns. Though it is not illegal for the groups and campaigns to use the same vendor, the Federal Election Commission requires vendors to prevent workers from sharing information.
Larry Noble, who served as general counsel for the FEC for more than a decade, told The Trace that “all evidence points to coordination.”
“It’s hard to understand how you’d have same person…