BREAKING: Audio of Rosendale Raises Question of Illegal Coordination With Dark Money Group

Brooke BainumNews

Helena – Just-released audio reveals comments from Matt Rosendale that raise the question of potentially illegal coordination with the National Rifle Association (NRA), a 501(c)(4) dark money group.

According to Rosendale, the NRA’s top political strategist Chris Cox gave Rosendale advance notice before the NRA spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in an ad bashing Jon Tester.

In July, Rosendale said, “I fully expect the NRA is going to come in…in August sometime” adding that Supreme Court confirmations are “what sent the NRA over the line.” He then admitted that Cox told him, “We’re going to be in this race.”

In early September, the NRA was “in this race” like Cox told Rosendale it would be, and its ad was about Supreme Court confirmations, the same exact issue Rosendale mentioned.

It is illegal for dark money groups to coordinate ad buys with federal campaigns.

The NRA is currently facing an FEC complaint for other potentially illegal coordination, allegedly by using what is effectively the same vendor as federal campaigns it runs ads for – the same media vendor Rosendale’s campaign works with.

Daily Beast: Exclusive: Audio Reveals Potentially Illegal Coordination Between NRA and Montana Senate Hopeful Matt Rosendale
By Lachlan Markay
September 13, 2018

Key points:

  • “Before the National Rifle Association dropped hundreds of thousands of dollars to try to flip a competitive, Democratic-held Senate seat, the gun-rights group’s chief lobbyist apparently gave the race’s Republican challenger a heads-up.”
  • “Chris Cox, the top political strategist for the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA), assured Montana Republican Matt Rosendale that the group would spend heavily to support his bid to unseat Sen. Jon Tester, Rosendale told attendees at a July event in Washington.”
  • “…the NRA did come through as Cox apparently promised. Early this month, the group spent more than $400,000 on ads hitting Tester over the precise issue that Rosendale mentioned—the senator’s votes on Supreme Court nominations.”
  • “Rosendale’s remarks are potentially problematic, as the NRA-ILA, a 501(c)(4) ‘dark-money’ group, is legally barred from coordinating its ad buys with a federal campaign.”
  • “Brendan Fischer, the director of federal and Federal Election Commission reform programs for the Campaign Legal Center, said Rosendale’s remarks, together with the eventual ad campaign he alluded to, might satisfy the ‘three-pronged’ legal test for impermissible coordination. The three prongs are payment, content, and conduct.”
  • “Neither the Rosendale campaign nor the NRA-ILA responded to requests for comment.”
  • The Campaign Legal Center “has also filed an FEC complaint alleging the NRA is illegally coordinating with a number of federal campaigns through the use of a common vendor.”
  • “NRA-ILA’s independent expenditures have been routed through a company called Starboard Strategic. That company appears to be a clone of another vendor, OnMessage, which works with the same campaigns that the NRA is—ostensibly, independently—supporting with huge ad buys.”
  • The Campaign Legal Center “alleged that OnMessage, which shares staff and office space with Starboard Strategic, was using insight gleaned from media-buying work for the candidates’ campaigns to inform the NRA’s separate advertising strategies in each race.”
  • “Like other senators in competitive races this year, Rosendale’s campaign has paid OnMessage for media services, with payments totaling about $445,000. The NRA’s expenditures for its anti-Tester ads, notably, were paid to Starboard Strategic.”

Read the entire article HERE.

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