Kudos to The Daily Beast for catching this:
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.
PAY DIRT exclusively obtained audio of Rosendale’s remarks, which good-government groups say raise serious questions of potentially illicit coordination between Rosendale and an independent political group supporting his campaign.
“I fully expect the NRA is going to come in… in August sometime,” Rosendale said in response to a question about independent political spenders in the race. “The Supreme Court confirmations are big. That’s what sent the NRA over the line. Because in ’12, with [Republican Senate nominee Denny Rehberg] they stayed out, they stayed out of Montana. But Chris Cox told me, he’s like, ‘We’re going to be in this race.’”
Rosendale was slightly off in terms of timing, but 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. As explained by nonprofit tax law attorney Holly Schadler, illegal coordination may occur “if the organization has substantial discussions with the campaign about an expenditure, or if the organization informs the campaign about a planned communication related to the campaign and the campaign signals its agreement with the suggestion to make that communication.”
Click the link above to listen to the audio.
The attack ads have been heating up in Montana thanks to the NRA bailing out Rosendale. Here’s their latest attack ad against Tester:
Tester, of course, has also been on the air hitting Maryland Matt over this:
Let’s make sure Trump’s fellow lawbreaking GOPer and the NRA don’t take this seat. Click here to donate and get involved with Tester’s re-election campaign.