Complaint: Hawley campaign, NRA in "scheme" to evade detection of violations

3 weeks 15 hours 7 minutes ago Tuesday, October 23 2018 Oct 23, 2018 Tuesday, October 23, 2018 2:27:00 PM CDT October 23, 2018 in News
By: Steve Lambson, News Content Manager

WASHINGTON, D.C. - A complaint filed Tuesday with the Federal Election Commission accused Josh Hawley's Senate campaign and the National Rifle Association of illegal collaboration.

According to the complaint, Hawley's campaign and the NRA's Political Victory Fund violated the Federal Election Campaign Act by cooperating "in an elaborate scheme designed to evade detection of violations of the [FEC's] common vendor coordination rules."

Specifically, the complaint said "there is reason to believe that the NRA-PVF made illegal, unreported, and excessive in-kind contributions to Josh Hawley for Senate in the form of coordinated communications...in violation of FECA’s source prohibitions, reporting requirements, and contribution limits."

OnMessage, Inc., a strategy firm, allegedly moved the NRA-PFV's funds supporting Hawley through a shell corporation, Starboard Strategic, Inc. The NRA-PVF then apparently placed its pro-Hawley ads using National Media Research and Planning, LLC, at the same time Hawley's campaign used National Media to place its own ads. According to the filing, in at least one case, the ad placements happened on the same day.

"The coordinated nature of this scheme is further demonstrated by the fact that all of the relevant companies or shell companies are located or have been paid at the same Virginia address," the complaint said.

The complaint was filed by the Campaign Legal Center, a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C. According to the center's website, the CLC aims to hold "candidates and government officials accountable regardless of political affiliation."

Joining the CLC in its action is Giffords, a D.C. nonprofit founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, which aims to "reduce gun violence and mobilizes voters and lawmakers in support of safer gun laws."

KOMU 8 News has reached out to Josh Hawley's campaign for comment. Kelli Ford, spokeswoman for the campaign, sent the following statement:

“The entity filing this frivolous complaint is Giffords, a national gun control group that opposes the Second Amendment and opposed Justice Kavanaugh.  Liberal Claire McCaskill’s vote against Justice Kavanaugh has become the most prominent issue in the Senate race this fall, so it’s no wonder this radical anti-gun group is helping McCaskill by filing desperate and frivolous complaints against conservative Josh Hawley and the NRA.”

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