A federal lawsuit filed on Tuesday is accusing the National Rifle Association of violating campaign finance laws. The suit alleges that the NRA used shell companies to funnel up to $35 million to former President Donald Trump, Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri, and other Republican candidates.
The Campaign Legal Center filed the suit in Washington on behalf of Giffords, a gun control nonprofit founded by former Democratic U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords. The accusations include practices dating back to 2014 saying the NRA “[evaded] campaign finance regulations by using a series of shell corporations to illegally but surreptitiously coordinate advertising with at least seven candidates for federal office.”
According to the Campaign Legal Center, the Giffords organization first brought the allegations in 2018 when it filed several complaints to the Federal Election Commission; Giffords sued the FEC after no actions were taken.
“Campaign finance law prohibits groups like the NRA from buying influence over elected officials by coordinating spending with those candidates’ campaigns,” said Molly Danahy, a Campaign Legal Center attorney, in a news release. “When special interests like the NRA secretly collude with candidates, this illegal coordination corrupts our election process and deprives voters of their right to know who is spending to influence their vote.”
The National Rifle Association of America Political Victory Fund and National Rifle Association of America Institute for Legislative Action, two NRA affiliates, are accused of using the same personnel and vendors for campaign ads through coordinating with GOP candidates.
The NRA responded on Thursday with a statement saying the lawsuit is “another premeditated abuse of the public by our adversaries – who will stop at nothing in their pursuit of their anti-freedom agenda. This latest action is as misguided as it is transparent. Suffice it to say, the NRA has full confidence in its political activities and remains eager to set the record straight.”
The lawsuit is seeking an order preventing the NRA from committing similar violations in future elections, and it asks the court to require the NRA to pay a penalty that matches the amount spent illegally, which could reach up to $35 million.
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