A lawsuit filed Tuesday by the gun control group Giffords alleges that the National Rifle Association used a network of shell companies to ferry millions of dollars to former President Donald Trump and other Republicans.
“Over the past seven years, the National Rifle Association has engaged in a persistent campaign finance evasion scheme, using a number of shell corporations to illegally but covertly coordinate advertising with at least seven federal candidates,” the complaint said.
Campaign Law Center, which controls campaign finance, filed a lawsuit on behalf of Giffords in the US District Court for the District of Columbia. Giffords, a nonprofit group, was founded by former US Rep. Gabby Giffords, Arizona, who was shot in the head in 2011 at a meeting with voters in a shooting that killed 13 people.
“Thanks to this scheme, two NRA affiliates illegally, excessively, and did not report campaign donations of up to $ 35 million in the 2014, 2016 and 2018 elections, including up to $ 25 million for the 2016 Trump campaign.” the lawsuit says. “These coordinated contributions violate the federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) contribution limits, corporate donation ban and disclosure requirements.”
Lawmakers named in the lawsuit accused of receiving campaign money from the alleged armed group scheme are Republican Senator Josh Hawley (Missouri), Tom Tillis (North Carolina), Ron Johnson (Wisconsin) and Tom Cotton (Arctic), as and Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-Mont.) and former Senator Corey Gardner (R-Colo.).
The lawsuit aims to force the NRA to pay the US Treasury up to $ 35 million for the alleged scheme. In a statement to Reuters, the NRA described the lawsuit as “flawed” and “another deliberate abuse of the public by our opponents.”
The NRA already faces a number of threats to its financial existence. In a lawsuit filed earlier this year, New York State Attorney General Laetitia James said the NRA lost more than $ 64 million in three years after an 18-month investigation found senior executives were passing contracts to friends and family and using charitable funds for their own needs. personal gain.
James is now trying to liquidate the group’s nonprofit status, and Washington Attorney General Carl Racine said the NRA was illegally diverting donor money to fund security and firearms training. The funds were allegedly “used to support the wasteful spending of the NRA and its leaders,” Racine said.
The gun group tried to hide from James’ civil lawsuit earlier this year by filing for bankruptcy in Texas. In May, federal judge Harleen Hale rejected the group’s bankruptcy plan, saying the petition “was not filed in good faith.”
“The Court considers, on the basis of a combination of circumstances, that the NRA’s bankruptcy petition was not filed in good faith, but was instead filed as an attempt to gain an unfair judicial advantage in an enforcement action by the NYAG and as an attempt to evade regulation. scheme, ”Hale wrote in his ruling.