A publication claims the National Rifle Association may have improperly coordinated political advertising with Republican Josh Hawley’s campaign for the U.S. Senate

The Trace, a division of the left-leaning Mother Jones magazine, says Federal Communications Commission records show NRA ads in favor of Hawley were placed by the same consultant group that secured ads for Hawley’s campaign.

The publication says National Media, operating under the name Red Eagle Media, bought ads on behalf of the NRA backing Hawley while simultaneously purchasing ads for the Hawley campaign under a separate operation called American Media & Advocacy Group.  The Trace contends FCC records show that both the NRA and the Hawley campaign ad buys were authorized by National Media’s chief financial officer, Jon Ferrell.

Independent groups and campaigns are allowed to use the same ad buyers, but campaign finance laws forbid outside groups from sharing any election-related information with the candidates they back.

The Trace quoted Larry Noble, the general counsel of the Federal Election Commission from 1987 to 2000, as being convinced that collaboration took place between the NRA and Hawley and two other Republican Senate campaigns.

“All evidence points to coordination,” said Noble.  “It’s hard to understand how you’d have the same person authorizing placements for the NRA and the candidate and it not be coordination.”

The publication provided links to records showing National Media’s Ferrell signed off on two ad buys on KOAM-TV, which serves the Joplin market.  One placement appears to be on behalf of the NRA while the other lists Josh Hawley for Senate.

Hawley, Missouri’s former Attorney General, unseated Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill in November’s election.

The Trace and Mother Jones in December reported on a similar pattern of coordination between the NRA and Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.

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