FEC reviewing whether NRA accepted illegal Russian donations in 2016: report
The Federal Election Commission (FEC) has reportedly opened a preliminary probe into whether the National Rifle Association (NRA) took illegal contributions from Russian entities aimed at benefiting President Trump’s 2016 campaign.
The review was triggered in part after the American Democracy Legal Fund (ADLF), a liberal advocacy group, filed an FEC complaint urging the commission to probe whether money from foreign nationals was aimed at helping the Trump campaign, Politico reports.
The NRA and its lobbying arm spent $30 million in the 2016 election to support Trump. A spokesman for the gun rights group declined to comment to Politico about the FEC probe.
The ADLF’s complaint cites reports that a Russian banker linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin may have tried to influence the election through donations to the gun lobby.
While the FEC declined to confirm to Politico that it had opened a preliminary probe, it reportedly sent confirmation to ADLF treasurer Brad Woodhouse.
In its current stage, the investigation will likely require the NRA to provide the FEC with its campaign finance records from 2016 onwards.
Sources familiar with the probe told Politico that officials could launch a full-blown investigation, move to impose fines or potentially make criminal referrals depending on what FEC lawyers and investigators find.
The probe follows a request from Sen. Ron Wyden (Ore.), the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, for the NRA to provide campaign finance documents following reports of an FBI probe into the Russian banker’s activity.
Wyden asked the NRA to provide any donations or contributions accepted from any Russian official or operative.
Special counsel Robert Mueller is currently leading an investigation into whether Trump campaign associates colluded with Russia to influence the election, as well as probing Russia’s broader state-backed efforts to interfere in the election.