You’re going to want to be sitting down for this one: Apparently the National Rifle Association is up to no good.
Mother Jones published a report on Friday based on FCC records that found the NRA appears to have coordinated political advertising with three major Senate races in the past two years. If true, the actions would amount to a violation of federal campaign finance laws, which prohibit groups from sharing election information with candidates.
The lobbying group’s preferred advertising firm—National Media Research, Planning and Placement, covertly going by the name of Red Eagle Media—was employed in 2018 by Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley and Matt Rosendale of Montana, who lost his race. North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr also used the firm in 2016, according to documents reviewed by Mother Jones. Neither the NRA nor any of the senators or former Senate candidates responded to requests for comment by the magazine.
In Hawley’s case, the NRA, through Red Eagle, bought nearly 70 ad spots backing him in his race against Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill on a single local CBS affiliate. The purchase, signed off on by National Media Chief Financial Officer Jon Ferrell, came just a day after Hawley’s campaign paid for spots on the same station. That order form was also signed by Ferrell. The ads were then staggered throughout the day, often running within 20 minutes of one another.
Records published by Mother Jones showed the same cycle happened in Montana with Rosendale, although it didn’t prove as effective, with incumbent Democrat Jon Tester staving off the state auditor. Two years earlier, the same pattern played out in North Carolina, where Burr took down Democrat Deborah Ross, with Ferrell signing off on ads on behalf of both the NRA and Burr’s campaign. (You will be shocked to find out that Burr ranks No. 1 on the list of senators who have taken the most money from the NRA.)
This isn’t exactly a new phenomenon: President Donald Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign was popped by the Center for Responsive Politics in December for pulling the same stunt: funneling money through a shell company to coordinate with the NRA on advertising. The only real question left at this point, besides whether the above senators or Trump will actually face repercussions, is how the hell the money-hemorrhaging NRA keeps finding the cash to shell out for these ad campaigns.
Anyways, thoughts and prayers to Ferrell and the senators for getting caught and called out for their unrepentant sliminess.