The Campaign Legal Center has complained to the Federal Election Commission that the NRA used a shell company to unlawfully coordinate spending to elect Tom Cotton and others to the Senate in 2014.

The complaint rests on Politico reporting we mentioned earlier. As summarized by the Legal Center:


Politico uncovered that the directors at OnMessage – a powerhouse GOP consulting firm – created a shell corporation called Starboard, located at the same address, and which appears indistinguishable from its parent company. The NRA’s lobbying arm and PAC contracted with Starboard to create ads supporting U.S. Senate candidates Tom Cotton, Cory Gardner, and Thom Tillis in 2014, and Ron Johnson in 2016; those candidates, in turn, hired OnMessage. The NRA, which is effectively Starboard’s only client, consistently listed Starboard’s address as that of OnMessage, and OnMessage has repeatedly taken credit for advertisements that the NRA paid Starboard to produce.

In Republican-controlled Washington, it’s hard to imagine the complaint making much headway soon, if ever. The complaint, in the current context, does raise anew the question of whether the $19 million in dark money funneled to help Cotton and others came from Russians.