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 John TrumpTrump rips Dems' demands, impeachment talk: 'Witch Hunt continues!' Nevada Senate passes bill that would give Electoral College votes to winner of national popular vote The Hill's Morning Report - Pelosi remains firm despite new impeachment push 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 HawleyThe Hill's Morning Report - Pelosi remains firm despite new impeachment push Momentum grows to create 'Do Not Track' registry Hillicon Valley: FCC Republicans backing T-Mobile, Sprint merger | Tech giants to testify on election security | GOP senator offers 'Do Not Track' bill | Researchers find coordinated anti-Trump campaign on Instagram MORE (R-Mo.), Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonBarr throws curveball into Senate GOP 'spying' probe Bipartisan group of senators introduce legislation designed to strengthen cybersecurity of voting systems Trump Jr. subpoena spotlights GOP split over Russia probes MORE (R-Wis.), Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisCollins offering bill to boost battery research as GOP pushes energy 'innovation' Lawmakers call for investigation after census hired registered sex offender Dem Senate campaign arm hits GOP lawmakers over Trump tax law MORE (R-N.C.), Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerSenate Republicans running away from Alabama abortion law Frustrated GOP senators want answers from Trump on Iran Graham: Trump officials not adequately briefing on Iran threat MORE (R-Colo.), Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonGOP senator: Supreme Court abortion cases were 'wrongly decided as a constitutional matter' Senate confirms controversial 9th Circuit pick without blue slips Cotton: US could win war with Iran in 'two strikes' 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.