Trump Campaign Used Shell Companies For Ad Buys

Donald Trump

Truthout is reporting that the Trump 2020 campaign paid shell companies related to ad buyers who are part of a purported unlawful coordination plan with the National Rifle Association (NRA).

The unreported ad buys were sent through a limited-liability organization called Harris Sikes Media LLC. The information came to light through Federal Communications Commision records.

The campaign no longer reported payments to buyers at American Media & Advocacy Group after it was alleged that the company helped the facilitation of the supposed coordination with the campaign and the NRA, through the media groups connected to National Media Research, Planning & Placement and Red Eagle Media Group.

The companies all use the same storefront and hire a lot of the same ad buyers. The Trump campaign kept giving money to them but through Harris Sikes Media. Harris Sikes has no public office and also no individual ad buyers listed except for those who also gave permission for ads through National Media affiliates.

National Media said that Harris Sikes is a “firewall entity,” and a way to keep distance from buyers and the campaign to avoid conflict.  

The Trump campaign and the NRA both bought ads at the same radio station, only days apart. Sharing vendors is a factor that the Federal Election Commission (FEC) looks at when trying to figure out if there’s an illegal connection between a campaign and a group that supports it.

Payments for ad buys don’t need to be disclosed to the FEC until the campaigns next quarterly report, which will be due on July 15. However, the arrangement set up by the campaign means they won’t be reported at all.

The campaign also reported payments to a different firm, called American Made Media Consultants (AMMC), which is a Delaware company put together by Trump’s campaign manager Brad Parscale, and handled by the campaign.

The campaign said that the AMMC was made to function as a clearinghouse for spending on media that would regularly do the work and take commissions for it. The AMMC was reportedly created for more transparency from the campaign in regards to ad buys.