Gun control group sues FEC over alleged failure to act against NRA

 Gun control group sues FEC over alleged failure to act against NRA
© Greg Nash

A gun control advocacy group on Wednesday filed a lawsuit against the Federal Election Commission (FEC), saying the commission did not act on reports alleging campaign finance violations by the National Rifle Association (NRA). 

Giffords, the gun control group run by former Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, and the Campaign Legal Center accused the FEC of not acting on complaints from several organizations claiming that the NRA illegally donated to President TrumpDonald TrumpCapitol fencing starts coming down after 'Justice for J6' rally Netanyahu suggests Biden fell asleep in meeting with Israeli PM Aides try to keep Biden away from unscripted events or long interviews, book claims MORE's and six other federal political campaigns through shell companies, according to The Washington Post.

In addition to Trump, the federal candidates mentioned in the lawsuit are Sens. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleySenators slow Biden with holds at Pentagon, State Overnight Defense & National Security — Milley becomes lightning rod Joint Chiefs Chairman Milley becomes lightning rod on right MORE (R-Mo.), Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonDomestic extremists return to the Capitol GOP senator: Buying Treasury bonds 'foolish' amid standoff over debt ceiling, taxes Internal poll shows Barnes with 29-point lead in Wisconsin Democratic Senate primary MORE (R-Wis.), Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisGOP senators unveil bill designating Taliban as terrorist organization Without major changes, more Americans could be victims of online crime How to fix the semiconductor chip shortage (it's more than manufacturing) MORE (R-N.C.), Cory GardnerCory GardnerProtecting the outdoors: Three cheers for America's best idea Ex-Sen. Cory Gardner joins lobbying firm Biden administration reverses Trump changes it says 'undermined' conservation program MORE (R-Colo.), Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonOvernight Defense & National Security — Milley becomes lightning rod Joint Chiefs Chairman Milley becomes lightning rod on right Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Senate Democrats ding Biden energy proposal MORE (R-Ark.) and 2018 Senate candidate Matt Rosendale (R-Mont.), according to The Post. 

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The suit reportedly claims that in 2016, the NRA skirted campaign finance laws by using people in charge of Trump campaign ads to place its own ads in support of the then-candidate, using different names. According to the lawsuit, the NRA spent over $25 million on pro-Trump ads and activities during the election cycle. The NRA is accused of violating campaign finance law by coordinating with the Trump-linked media buyers to place the ads.

“The FEC is supposed to be the nation’s election watchdog, but in this case it didn’t bite, bark, or even whimper,” Adam Skaggs, chief counsel of Giffords Law Center, said in a statement. "Instead, it turned a blind eye while the NRA’s leadership made clear it’s more interested in handing bags of cash to candidates who will carry its water than following American laws or looking out for the interests of gun owners."

The NRA did not immediately respond to The Hill's request for comment, but told The Post that it follows the law and called the legal challenge "frivolous." 

“We scrupulously follow the law,” NRA spokeswoman Jennifer Baker told The Post. “This latest effort by Giffords and the Campaign Legal Center is a frivolous lawsuit based on a frivolous complaint.”

An FEC spokesperson declined to comment, telling The Hill that it does not comment on litigation. 

A spokesperson for Johnson's 2016 campaign declined to comment, but a person familiar with the campaign said Johnson parted ways with a firm that was mentioned in the suit during the summer of 2016. 

The Hill has reached out to the White House and the senators named in the lawsuit for comment.