NRA Continues to Use Mystery Firm in Latest Round of Election Spending

The Trace

The National Rifle Association is continuing to funnel much of its spending on the 2018 midterm elections through an apparent shell company that, according to one campaign watchdog, is part of a scheme to skirt election laws.

Records filed with the Federal Election Commission on Friday show that the NRA spent more than $830,000 in support of Missouri GOP Senate candidate Josh Hawley, who is locked in a virtual tie with Claire McCaskill, the state’s Democratic incumbent. The gun group hired a firm called Starboard Strategic Inc. to place the ads. Hawley’s campaign, meanwhile, has paid OnMessage Inc., a conservative political consulting firm, more than $1.2 million for its services. Previous reporting by The Trace has shown that Starboard — whose only client is the NRA — appears to be little more than an OnMessage alter ego.

The Campaign Legal Center, an election watchdog, has filed two complaints with the FEC based on The Trace’s ongoing investigation. The complaints allege that the NRA uses Starboard to evade election laws meant to bar coordination between campaigns and outside groups.

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