NEW: In audio obtained by The Daily Beast, Montana senate candidate Matt Rosendale says he discussed forthcoming NRA independent expenditures with the group's top political strategist. The NRA went on to spend $400k attacking Tester https://t.co/yqX9vwp3G8— Lachlan Markay (@lachlan) September 13, 2018
As per the Federal Election Commission, "communication made in cooperation, consultation or at the request or suggestion of a candidate or a candidate’s agent," is illegal coordination.
And that's exactly what Montana GOP candidate appears to have done, according to new audio released by The Daily Beast.
The recording purportedly shows Rosendale saying he had communicated with Chris Cox, the executive director of the National Rifle Association's Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA), to discuss the possibility of the gun lobby and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to enter the race against Democratic hopeful Sen. Jon Tester.
At one point in the audio, Rosendale can be heard acknowledging he was expecting financial support from Coz because, apparently, he was informed about it.
“I fully expect the NRA is going to come in… in August sometime. 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.'”
Shane Scanlon, Rosendale's spokesperson, rejected the allegations of illegal coordination. While acknowledging it was Rosendale's voice on the audio clip, Scanlon said the candidate merely discussed endorsement, which is legal.
That said, it is important to note here the NRA-ILA ended up spending a whopping $400,000, even more, on TV advertisements opposing Tester in early September -- that too targeting the Democrat on the same issue discussed in the clip: the Supreme Court.
The race, especially for Tester, is already, going to be contentious given the fact that Trump won by over 20 percentage points in 2016.
Also, Rosendale has the president's official endorsement:
Getting ready to go on stage for Matt Rosendale, who will be a great Senator. Jon Tester has let the people of Montana down & does not deserve another six years. Matt is strong on Crime, the Borders, & will save your Second Amendment from the onslaught. Loves our Military & Vets!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 7, 2018
The Campaign Legal Center (CLC) is planning to file a complaint with the FEC about the Rosendale audio.
"If the outside group goes to the candidate and says, 'We're going to run ads during this period, with this message,' and the candidate assents to that, that too is considered coordinated," Brendan Fischer, the federal reform program director at CLC.
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