A new complaint filed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) urges the commission to investigate a string of revelations regarding the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) ties to sanctioned Russian officials, as well as the gun lobby’s shifting answers about just how much money it received from Russian nationals.
The complaint, submitted last week by the American Democracy Legal Fund (ADLF), supplements the ADLF’s initial January filing, which, according to Politico, sparked a preliminary FEC investigation into the NRA’s strange ties to Russians sanctioned by the United States.
The new filing details reports about previously undisclosed trips and meetings — including sit-downs between NRA officials and those connected directly to the Kremlin — and raises fresh questions about how the NRA managed to donate over $30 million to the Trump campaign without disclosing its donors.
It also points to recent statements from the Senate Judiciary Committee, which noted that it had “obtained a number of documents that suggest the Kremlin used the National Rifle Association as a means of accessing and assisting Mr. Trump and his campaign.”
“It’s somewhat stunning that a group that is about protecting people’s right to bear arms, and protecting, as they would say, a central part of our Constitution and Bill of Rights — a ‘well-regulated militia to protect everybody’s rights’ — is basically taking money from foreign sources which have connections to… an adversarial foreign government,” the ADLF’s Brad Woodhouse told ThinkProgress.
While the complaint doesn’t detail any new information, it provides an overview of revelations about the NRA’s relationship with Russia since the initial January filing. It not only highlights the “web of contacts” Russian officials and proxies maintained with NRA higher-ups — including meetings in Moscow in late 2015 — but also details recent disclosures about the NRA’s ties with Alexander Torshin, a sanctioned Russian official who barely escaped arrest in Spain on charges of massive money laundering and links to organized crime.
The new filing also catalogs the NRA’s shifting response to questions regarding just how much money it’s received from Russian nationals — and just how many Russian nationals have actually sent money to the NRA over the past few years.
After initially claiming that they had received only a single donation from a Russian individual between 2012 and 2018, the NRA later admitted that some 25 individuals had actually sent money. And when Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) asked the NRA for information about its Russian donors, the NRA announced it would no longer answer any of Wyden’s questions. Wyden has since passed along all of his office’s communications with the NRA to the FEC. (The NRA has long opposed transparency in political financing.)
As the latest filing is only a supplemental complaint, it will likely not trigger a new FEC investigation. But while the status of the initial preliminary investigation remains unclear, the NRA has remained notably mum on the topic.
“What I think speaks volumes about this is how little the NRA has had to say,” Woodhouse told ThinkProgress. “They have been uncharacteristically quiet on this.”