Rosendale Allegedly Received Millions In “Illegal, Unreported” Coordinated Contributions from Pro-Trump Super PAC America First Action
Over the weekend, it was reported that “Maryland Matt” Rosendale has allegedly again received illegal coordinated campaign contributions – this time from a pro-Trump super PAC America First Action, which was recently implicated in the criminal campaign finance violation case of two Rudy Giuliani associates.
In what is sadly unsurprising news to many voters in Montana, this isn’t the first time Rosendale’s campaign has been caught up in a scandal for receiving hundreds of thousands in illegally coordinated donations from D.C. Insiders. Last time, Rosendale was caught on audio recordings discussing illegal campaign coordination with a top NRA official for his failed Senate bid in 2018.
Read more about Rosendale’s shady campaign contributions, below or HERE.
MT-AL: ABC NEWS: Pro-Trump super PAC accused of another campaign finance violation by Watchdog group
By SOO RIN KIM // October 25, 2019
Just weeks after pro-Trump super PAC America First Action was implicated in a criminal campaign finance violation case against two associates of Rudy Giuliani, the conservative group has been named in another potential campaign finance case.
The Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan campaign finance watchdog, and End Citizens United, a liberal advocacy group, filed a complaint to the Federal Election Commission on Friday alleging America First Action made “illegal, unreported and excessive in-kind contributions” to three House and Senate candidates during the 2018 cycle by making millions of coordinated expenditures supporting those candidates.
They alleged America First did so by making millions of so-called coordinated expenditures in support of those candidates. Federal campaign finance law prohibits candidate campaigns and super PACs from making coordinated expenditures to draw a clear line between campaigns, which are bound by contribution limits, and outside groups, which are allowed to accept an unlimited amount of donations and spend an unlimited amount of money.
According to the complaint, America First Action, during the 2018 cycle, spent nearly $6.6 million on an ad blitz supporting former Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., and Montana Senate candidate Matt Rosendale, using multiple vendors linked to a political consulting firm called OnMessage, while the candidates were, at the same time, placing ads using a firm named National Media. The firms were disguised as separate entities in campaign disclosure reports and the super PAC’s spending was reported as independent expenditures (e.g. unconnected to the campaigns), according to the complaint, which cites public records reviewed by ABC News.
Those vendors appear to be functionally indistinguishable, with the same people running the firms, listing the same addresses and even the same employees placing ads for the super PAC and the campaigns, the complaint states.
“If National Media and its affiliates know at what time and on what stations the campaign is placing its ads, then it can more intentionally place ads on behalf of AFA (America First Action) in support of those candidates in a way that would be fully complimentary to the campaign’s own spending,” Brendan Fischer, federal reform director for Campaign Legal Center, told ABC News.
That level of coordination and inside knowledge about a campaign strategy and its needs is what renders the super PAC spending coordinated and no longer independent, Fischer added.
Hawley declined to comment and Rosendale did not immediately return ABC News’ request for comment. A spokesperson for Sessions deferred to the parties in the complaint on this matter.
Sessions previously told ABC News he was subpoenaed in connection with the alleged illegal straw donations described in the indictment against two Giuliani associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, and said that he is fully cooperating with the investigation. Sessions has said he has not been told that he is a focus of the investigation and he has denied any impropriety.
How quickly the FEC will look into the complaint is unforeseeable, considering the current lack of quorum within the agency to act on any substantial matter, on top of its infamous frequent delays and deadlocks.