The NRA’s power: By the numbers
The National Rifle Association (NRA) and its wide-ranging influence is back in the spotlight after the massacre in Las Vegas, with Democrats renewing their push for gun control measures that the gun rights group has long opposed.
The group is among the most powerful lobbying forces in Washington, with clout that extends far beyond campaign contributions.
Here are some key figures to keep in mind.
The amount of revenue that the NRA took in during 2015, the most recent year for which tax forms are available. Of that total, $165.7 million came from membership dues.
A one-year membership to the NRA costs $40. A lifetime membership costs $1,500.
The perks of membership include discounts on home, car, health and life insurance, as well as on car rentals and hotels, firearms training and gun insurance, an NRA-branded Visa rewards card, a wine club and admission to the NRA’s Guns, Gear & Outfitter Show, among other things.
The number of members the NRA has, according to the group. A Pew Research Center report in June pinned the number far higher, at 14 million, but the NRA said it’s typical for nonmembers to express support in polling.
“We have millions more Americans who support us and will tell pollsters they are members, even when they are not,” the NRA Institute for Legislative Action said in a blog post after the numbers dropped earlier this summer.
“For some, it could be that their membership has lapsed and for others, they might consider a family member’s membership part of their own,” the group said. “Even more to the point, the simple fact is that our support runs much deeper than among our members alone. Gun control advocates know this to be true, and that’s why the NRA remains the most powerful political force in America.”
Over $5 million
The amount that Wayne LaPierre, the NRA’s chief executive officer and executive vice president, earned in 2015, according to the most recent tax forms available.
In the previous year, LaPierre took in about $986,000 — the jump is attributable to a $3.7 million payout from a deferred compensation retirement plan.
The group’s top lobbyist, Chris Cox, had a total compensation in 2015 of more than $1.3 million. In 2014, Cox earned $891,000, tax forms show.
The gross receipts in 2015 for the NRA Foundation, which raises money to support “a wide range of firearm-related public interest activities,” including promoting firearms and hunting safety and improved marksmanship skills.
The foundation is just one of several nonprofits affiliated with the NRA.
The NRA also has the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action, its lobbying arm that also spends money on political campaigns.
The NRA Civil Rights Defense Fund, which took in $1.58 million in gross receipts in 2015, helps fund cases “involving significant legal issues relating to the right to keep and bear arms.”
The NRA Freedom Action Foundation, which had $1.2 million in gross receipts in 2015, is a nonprofit that encourages Second Amendment supporters to vote.
The NRA Political Victory Fund is the group’s political fundraising apparatus.
It received $21.6 million in donations in the 2016 election cycle, and still has $5.3 million for the 2018 elections.
The NRA also has a nonprofit hunting and shooting and training facility in New Mexico, called the NRA Whittington Center, that has camping, guided hunts, shooting courses and firearms training.
More than $54 million
The amount the NRA and its affiliates spent on independent expenditures (IEs) in the 2016 election cycle, according to Federal Election Commission (FEC) records.
Independent expenditures go toward supporting and opposing candidates and causes, with the money spent on political television and digital ads, yard signs, NRA booths and mailers, among other things.
The National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action helped primarily Republican candidates by spending $33 million on IEs, while its traditional PAC spent an additional $19.2 million on IEs, according to FEC records.
The PAC also gave $1 million to federal candidates and party committees in the 2016 election cycle. Its members contributed an additional $67,700, including $10,550 to Democrats, according to the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP). (The group itself donates almost exclusively to Republicans.)
The amount the NRA’s outside groups spent helping to elect President Trump in 2016.
Trump was the biggest beneficiary of NRA cash in the 2016 election. Here’s the top 10:
Donald Trump — $31,194,646
Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) — $6,297,551
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) — $3,298,405
Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) — $3,105,294
Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.) — $2,888,132
Former Rep. Joe Heck (R-Nev.) — $2,529,305
Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio)— $2,319,755
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.)—$650,745
Rep. Lloyd Smucker (R-Pa.)—$215,786
Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.)—$167,411
These numbers, compiled by CRP and calculated by The Hill, include only the NRA’s outside spending. It encompasses the money spent to help get the candidates elected and defeat their opponents. For example, included in Trump’s total is the $19.8 million the NRA used on ads and other IEs to oppose Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton.
More than $66 million
The amount the NRA spent electing 249 members of Congress and 54 senators as well as defeating their opponents, according to a spreadsheet compiled by CRP.
The totals represent the amount spent over the lawmakers’ career, with the data going as far back as 1989. The total includes donations and IEs from the NRA’s PAC, its super PAC, and directly from NRA members.
Tax forms show that the group also gives to state-level causes, including $192,650 to the Republican Governors Association in 2015, the most recent data available publicly. The NRA also contributed $145,000 to the Republican State Leadership Committee and $103,860 to the Republican Attorneys General Association.
The amount the NRA has spent, roughly, on lobbying each year since 2011.
But the NRA will vastly exceed that amount in 2017. During the first half of 2017, it spent $3.2 million.
It successfully lobbied for a resolution overturning an Obama-era Interior Department rule restricting sport hunting on national wildlife refuges in Alaska, including banning hunting from planes and killing predators like bears and wolves while near their dens or their cubs. President Trump approved it in April.
–This story was updated on Oct. 8 at 6 p.m.
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