Rosendale Back In The News For Playing Fast and Loose with Campaign Finance Laws

Brooke BainumNews

Helena – After audio was released yesterday revealing “potentially illegal coordination” between Matt Rosendale and a 501(c)(4) dark money group, campaign finance experts and watchdogs said it raised “serious questions of potentially illicit coordination.”

After being asked if outside groups were spending to help him, Rosendale admitted that the dark money group’s top political strategist told him it was “going to be in [the Montana Senate] race.” A campaign finance expert with the Campaign Legal Center said that “Rosendale apparently assent[ed] to the NRA’s suggestion that it would run independent expenditures attacking his opponent, his campaign and the NRA used a common vendor, both of which appear to constitute coordination under federal law.”

While Rosendale’s campaign tried to claim he wasn’t doing anything illegal, the words coming out of Rosendale’s own mouth in the audio have raised a lot of red flags.

Read more below:

Montana Free Press: “The audio in the Daily Beast recording appears to contradict [a Rosendale spokesperson’s] explanation. An unidentified person can be heard asking Rosendale if ‘outside groups have started spending’ on Rosendale’s behalf. There was no mention of an endorsement in the audio segment made publicly available.”

Roll Call: “Montana GOP Senate candidate Matt Rosendale knew in advance the National Rifle Association was poised to drop big bucks on an advertising purchase against his opponent this November…Some campaign finance watchdog groups told the Daily Beast the recording raises serious concerns about whether Rosendale was illegally coordinating with the NRA, a 501(c)(4) group that is not supposed to consult candidates on its spending in their races.”

Associated Press: “Brendan Fischer, an attorney with the Washington, D.C.-based Campaign Legal Center, said it appeared to him that Rosendale was speaking about NRA spending money on ads in the race, because that was the question he was answering. ‘It appeared from the recording that Rosendale was talking about something other than an endorsement,’ Fischer said. ‘It creates an inference that the NRA-ILA had suggested what kind of communication it would be running in the Montana Senate race, and Rosendale assented, which would be coordination.’”

CNN: “‘Not only does this raise questions under the federal campaign finance laws, but it could also raise questions under the Internal Revenue Code. Rosendale’s comments are clearly sufficient to warrant the FEC investigating the matter,’ [Larry Noble, general counsel of the FEC for 13 years] added.”

Daily Beast: “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… 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.”

Montana Public Radio: “In this case we’ve got the NRA Institute for Legal Action’s political director apparently telling Rosendale that the group would be spending on ads in his race, apparently giving him a sense of the content of the ads — that was going to be dealing with the Supreme Court — and then they may also describe the approximate timing of when those ads would run. And what he said is Rosendale remarks taken together with the fact that this ad campaign that he alluded to did in fact happen in the time frame and the subject matter that Matt Rosendale alluded to, that that satisfies the three pronged legal test.”

Politico: “CAMPAIGN FINANCE PROBLEMS — Republican Matt Rosendale, who is running for Senate in Montana, apparently had prior knowledge that the NRA would intervene in his race.”

The Trace: “The ad the NRA ran against Tester raises fresh questions about potentially illegal coordination. The gun group paid Starboard almost $400,000 for costs relating to the spot. Meanwhile, the campaign of Tester’s opponent, Matt Rosendale, has already paid OnMessage more than $400,000 this cycle.”

Think Progress: “In the recording, Republican senate candidate Matt Rosendale can be heard acknowledging that he was told he would receive financial support from Chris Cox, head of the NRA’s lobbying efforts”

Washington Post: “The audio recording appears to show Rosendale discussing a conversation he had with Chris Cox, the NRA-ILA’s executive director, regarding the group’s planned involvement in the campaign.”

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