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The NRA and Trump in criminal conspiracy too?

The NRA and Trump in criminal conspiracy too?

by digby

I know this will come as a shock, but it appears that the NRA and the Republicans are crooks:

The National Rifle Association spent $30 million to help elect Donald Trump—more than any other independent conservative group. Most of that sum went toward television advertising, but a political message loses its power if it fails to reach the right audience at the right time. For the complex and consequential task of placing ads in key markets across the nation in 2016, the NRA turned to a media strategy firm called Red Eagle Media.

One element of Red Eagle’s work for the NRA involved purchasing a slate of 52 ad slots on WVEC, the ABC affiliate in Norfolk, Virginia, in late October 2016. The ads targeted adults aged 35 to 64 and aired on local news programs and syndicated shows like Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune. In paperwork filed with the Federal Communications Commission, Red Eagle described them as “anti-Hillary” and “pro-Trump.”

The Trump campaign pursued a strikingly similar advertising strategy. Shortly after the Red Eagle purchase, as Election Day loomed, it bought 33 ads on the same station, set to air during the same week. The ads, which the campaign purchased through a firm called American Media & Advocacy Group (AMAG), were aimed at precisely the same demographic as the NRA spots, and often ran during the same shows, bombarding Norfolk viewers with complementary messages.“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a situation where illegal coordination seems more obvious,” says a former chair of the Federal Election Commission.

The two purchases may have looked coincidental; Red Eagle and AMAG appear at first glance to be separate firms. But each is closely connected to a major conservative media-consulting firm called National Media Research, Planning and Placement. In fact, the three outfits are so intertwined that both the NRA’s and the Trump campaign’s ad buys were authorized by the same person: National Media’s chief financial officer, Jon Ferrell.

“This is very strong evidence, if not proof, of illegal coordination,” said Larry Noble, a former general counsel for the Federal Election Commission. “This is the heat of the general election, and the same person is acting as an agent for the NRA and the Trump campaign.”

Reporting by The Trace, which has teamed up with Mother Jones to investigate the NRA’s political activity, shows that the NRA and the Trump campaign employed the same operation—at times, the exact same people—to craft and execute their advertising strategies for the 2016 presidential election. The investigation, which involved a review of more than 1,000 pages of Federal Communications Commission and Federal Election Commission documents, found multiple instances in which National Media, through its affiliates Red Eagle and AMAG, executed ad buys for Trump and the NRA that seemed coordinated to enhance each other.

Individuals working for National Media or its affiliated companies either signed or were named in FCC documents, demonstrating that they had knowledge of both the NRA and the Trump campaign’s advertising plans.

Experts say the arrangement appears to violate campaign finance laws.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a situation where illegal coordination seems more obvious,” said Ann Ravel, a former chair of the Federal Election Commission, who reviewed the records. “It is so blatant that it doesn’t even seem sloppy. Everyone involved probably just thinks there aren’t going to be any consequences.”


They're probably right, unfortunately.

But this does confirm something I wrote in December of 2016 for Salon which concluded with this:

The NRA went all in for Trump and spent millions on ads bashing Hillary Clinton in places like Columbus, Ohio; Greensboro, North Carolina; and Scranton, Pennsylvania. (I wrote for Salon about the NRA's first ad this past summer.) According to the Center for Public Integrity, nearly 1 out of 20 TV ads in Pennsylvania was paid for by the NRA, and the group ran nearly 15,000 spots in the crucial swing states that Trump narrowly won, deciding the election.LaPierre has released a new video, taking a victory lap in which he fatuously declares, “Our time is now. This is our historic moment to go on offense.” First on the agenda is demanding that the federal government enforce "concealed-carry reciprocity," whereby states would have to recognize permits to carry concealed weapons issued by other states, as if they were as benign as driver's licenses. So much for federalism.

Most election postmortems have concluded that Democrats failed with non-college educated and rural white voters this time because of their economic message rather than guns or other culture-war issues. But perhaps that's just the other side of the same coin. LaPierre and the NRA have a powerful understanding of what moves this constituency and they've been moving it in their direction for many years. The NRA has been selling anti-establishment Trumpism long before Trump came on the scene. It's Wayne LaPierre's win as much as Donald Trump's.


The NRA is broke now, apparently. It's unclear exactly what's happened. But then everything that Donald Trump touches eventually turns to ashes eventually,