The National Rifle Association, which started out a hobbyist group before turning into one of the most powerful gun lobbies with vast influence in American politics, finally acknowledged it does accept foreign donations, National Public Radio reported.
However, the group, which has reportedly spent billions in election campaigns for a number of prominent pro-gun Republicans, claimed none of those contributions go toward election work and are spent “within the bounds of the law.”
“While we do receive some contributions from foreign individuals and entities, those contributions are made directly to the NRA for lawful purposes,” NRA's General Counsel John C. Frazer wrote to Senate Finance Committee ranking member Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) in response to a series of questions about its foreign funding.
“Our review of our records has found no foreign donations in connection with a United States election, either directly or through a conduit,” Frazer said in the letter obtained by the NPR, claiming donations were “connected with Russia.”
The confirmation about the foreign funding comes at a time when the NRA might already be under investigation by the FBI over the allegations a prominent Kremlin-linked Russian banker donated money to the anti-gun control association to help President Donald Trump’s election campaign.
The @NRA acknowledged in a letter to me on March 19 that it maintains accounts with foreign donations that could fund political activities intended to sway the American political debate and influence campaigns. pic.twitter.com/LtwO27VyL9— Ron Wyden (@RonWyden) March 27, 2018
“I am specifically troubled by the possibility that Russian-backed shell companies or intermediaries may have circumvented laws designed to prohibit foreign meddling in our elections by abusing the rules governing 501(c)(4) tax-exempt organizations,” Wyden had written to the NRA, seeking details of any transactions with Russian officials and procedures that “ensure that funds from foreign sources are not used to influence U.S. elections.”
It is important to note a month before the November 2016 presidential election, NBC reported the NRA spent more than $36 million on Trump's campaign, which was more than the group ever had spent on elections.
In return, Trump committed to expanding access to guns as president. Within a month of assuming office, he signed a measure into law that rescinds an Obama-era rule aimed at blocking gun sales to certain mentally ill people. He also backs the bill to create nationwide right to carry concealed guns.
In fact, he even told the NRA they have "a true friend and champion in the White House."
Meanwhile, the Federal Election Commission is also reportedly investigating if the NRA received illegal funding from Russian officials.
Thumbnail/Banner Credits: Reuters, Joshua Roberts