Throughout 2016, the NRA spends $30 million on electing Donald Trump. One expenditure is made on October 19, when the NRA purchases TV ad slots for pro-Trump advertisements with the help of a company called Red Eagle Media.
The Trump campaign then buys ad slots for the same time and days, on the same networks, through another company, American Media & Advocacy Group (AMAG).
It appears that Red Eagle and AMAG aren’t behind the separate ad purchases, though. One person authorized the ad buys for both the Trump campaign and the NRA: Jon Ferrell, a chief financial officer at a third media company, National Media Research, Planning and Placement.
The coordinated effort is in direct violation of campaign finance laws.
“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 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.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a situation where illegal coordination seems more obvious,” said Ann Ravel, a former chair of the FEC 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.”
Photo: Gage Skidmore